Pacific Northwest CMC Biopharmaceuticals plans to expand the work force at the contract manufacturing facility it acquired from Lilly Icos...

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CMC Biopharmaceuticals plans to expand the work force at the contract manufacturing facility it acquired from Lilly Icos, a company executive said Thursday.

The Bothell facility, which has been renamed CMC Icos Biologics, employs about 127 people. CMC Chief Executive Mads Lausten said the facility could ramp up to between 130 and 140 workers this year.

The executive added he “would be surprised” if the facility didn’t employ 50 percent more people in three years.

Pope & Talbot

Bankruptcy loan can be extended

A federal judge gave Pope & Talbot interim approval to extend its $89 million bankruptcy loan through April 4.

Lenders Wells Fargo Financial and Ableco Finance agreed to extend the loan, which had been set to mature Feb. 14, to give the company time to close sales of its lumber and pulp mills.

The Portland-based forest-products company expects that the sales, which are awaiting regulatory approval, will close by April 4.

Nation / World


Barely any growth in fourth quarter

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that gross domestic product increased at a scant 0.6 percent pace in the October-to-December quarter. In the prior quarter, the economy clocked in at a brisk 4.9 percent pace.

That finding pushed the 15-nation euro to a record $1.5215 in late trading, up from $1.5120 late Wednesday.

Dollar weakness boosted the appeal of gold, which added $6.30 Thursday to settle at $964.50 an ounce in New York.

Oil also set a record, jumping $2.95 to settle at $102.59 a barrel in New York.

Gold has touched a record three times this week, after jumping 31 percent in 2007, during which the dollar has fallen 9.5 percent against the euro.


Earnings fall, sales miss forecast

Dell reported Thursday its fourth-quarter profit fell, and the computer maker says a consumer-spending slowdown and higher costs could further hurt its business.

Dell says it earned $679 million, or 31 cents a share, more than 6 percent from $726 million, or 32 cents per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Analysts had predicted a profit of 36 cents a share according to a Thomson Financial survey.

Sales at the world’s No. 2 PC maker jumped 11 percent to nearly $16 billion but missed an average analyst forecast of $16.3 billion.

Dell is realigning its business to boost profits, and the company says this could hurt profits over the short term. Dell’s shares were down in aftermarket activity.

Dell shares rose 10 cents, to $20.87, before the report was released. In extended trading, they were down 87 cents, or 4 percent.


Ads won’t be sold on health service

Google won’t sell ads to support a new Internet service that stores personal medical information, CEO Eric Schmidt said Thursday in the search giant’s first detailed comments about a venture that has raised privacy concerns.

Schmidt described Google Health as a platform for users to manage their own records, such as medical test results and prescriptions. It would be accessed with a user name and password, just like a Google e-mail account, and could be called up on any computer with an Internet connection.

A primary benefit, Schmidt said, is the portability of records from one health-care provider to the next. He repeatedly said no data would be shared without the consumer’s consent.

Google isn’t the only one vying for the personal health-record market. Microsoft last year introduced a service called HealthVault, and AOL co-founder Steve Case is backing Revolution Health, which offers similar online tools.

Microsoft’s service has ads, but they aren’t personalized based on health records or searches. Revolution Health does not have ads on its health-records service.


NWA pilots seek deal, report says

Northwest Airlines pilots are continuing to look for a solution to the stalled talks with Delta pilots, and they’re not under a deadline to make a deal, a person with knowledge of the situation said Thursday.

Pilots for Northwest and Delta Air Lines have not met for a week, but the person, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, said there’s no indication they won’t keep trying.

The person said the pieces of a merger are in place, held up only by the lack of a seniority agreement between the pilots at each carrier.

Shares in Delta and Northwest continued their slide on Thursday. Northwest shares dropped $1.10, or 7.3 percent, to close at $14. Delta shares dropped 91 cents, or 6 percent, to close at $14.09.

Separately, Delta raised round-trip fares $10 on most domestic routes for the second time this week as fuel prices climbed to record highs, a Web site said. The increase applies to coach and business-class fares, Rick Seaney of said in an e-mail.

Freddie Mac

CFO confident of enough capital

Freddie Mac on Thursday said its loss widened to $2.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007 as mortgage defaults mounted and falling interest rates hurt certain investments.

Despite expectations of further losses this year and next, the company’s chief financial officer said Freddie, the No. 2 U.S. buyer and backer of home loans, will not need to raise additional capital unless “things dramatically deteriorate.”

The wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss at Freddie Mac was much larger than Wall Street expected and compares with a loss of $401 million in the same period a year earlier. If not for an accounting change, the company said its fourth-quarter loss would have been $3.7 billion.

Freddie shares fell 60 cents, or 2.4 percent, to close at $24.49.


Settlement ends patent dispute

eBay has settled a seven-year patent dispute with MercExchange that prompted an important intellectual-property ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The online auction company said Thursday that it bought the three MercExchange patents it had been accused of violating. The price was not disclosed; eBay said the figure would not materially affect its financial results.

MercExchange sued eBay in 2001, arguing eBay’s “Buy It Now” option — which lets eBay sellers make items available at set prices — infringed on MercExchange patents. A jury ruled in MercExchange’s favor in 2003.

eBay said the settlement would end all claims by MercExchange.

Hollinger International

Black must report to jail, court says

A federal appeals court has denied media baron Conrad Black’s request for bond while appealing his case.

The court in Chicago said Thursday he must report to prison Monday.

The 62-year-old Black was convicted of defrauding the shareholders of his Hollinger International newspaper empire.

Black must surrender to a federal prison near Coleman, Fla., to start his 6 ½-year sentence. He has also been ordered to pay $6.1 million in restitution.

Compiled from The Associated Press, McClatchy News Service and Bloomberg News