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NACM Says Business Economy Slowed For Fourth Straight Month

The National Association of Credit Management (NACM), based in Columbia, Md., said its monthly survey of the business economy showed growth slowing for a fourth straight month during August.

The overall NACM Index is now at its lowest level since February 2004, the erosion in growth caused by a slowing in both the manufacturing and service sectors. “Slippage continues in the economy's rate of growth for the fourth consecutive month,” the trade group reported. “Although growth continues … it is slowing.”

The NACM said its monthly index came in at 59, down from a reading of 59.2 in July. Hardest hit was the manufacturing sector, where the index slipped to a level of 58.7, down from 59.2 the preceding month. Growth in the service sector slowed to a reading of 59.2 from 59.3 in July.

Scoping out the manufacturing sector, the NACM said, “The survey results indicate several negatives at work: growth in accounts placed for collection; growth in disputed invoices; growth in the aging of accounts; growth in unauthorized customer deductions; and growth in firms filing bankruptcy. The last time this many factors declined was December 2003.

On the other hand, the services sector held its ground during August, the index slipping just one-tenth of a point. New credit applications and the amount of credit extended improved sharply during the month.

Jo-Ann Chief Selling Stock

Alan Rosskamm, chairman, president and CEO of Jo-Ann Stores Inc., based in Hudson, Ohio, has filed a plan with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell up to 197,250 shares of common stock over the next eight months.

The number represents about 9 percent of Rosskamm's holdings, and about 0.9 percent of the total number of Jo-Ann shares issued and outstanding.

In a public statement, the specialty fabric and crafts retailer said most of the shares to be sold under the plan are held by family partnerships and trusts, “and are being sold at the request of other members of Mr. Rosskamm's family.”

The retailer said, “Mr. Rosskamm adopted the plan in order for the family partnerships and family trust to meet tax and other obligations and to diversify his assets for personal financial and estate planning purposes, with the overall goal of minimizing any market impact by spreading such sales over an extended period of time rather than during the company's traditional 'window periods'” — limited periods of time during a company's financial quarter when insiders are permitted to buy or sell stock in their companies.

Home Depot Raises $1 Billion

Home Depot, the Atlanta-based home improvement retailer, said it has raised $1 billion through the sale of notes in an institutional private placement.

The senior notes, due in 2009, bear an interest rate of 3.75 percent.

The retailer said it will use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, including the repayment of debt which matured on Sept. 15.

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