Business briefs

Service, wages give a boost to Wall Street

NEW YORK - Wall Street rallied for a second straight session Tuesday after easing wage pressures and stronger-than-expected service sector activity raised prospects that the economy could cool gradually and leave room for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates next year.

Investors applauded Labor Department figures showing wages and benefits increased at a much slower pace in the third quarter than had been estimated. Recent concerns about inflation had eroded some hopes that the Federal Reserve would start lowering interest rates next year. The central bank has said inflation remains its primary concern.

E. coli outbreak

Same food distributor at all 11 Taco Bell locations

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. - All 11 Taco Bells implicated in an E. coli outbreak in New York and New Jersey used the same food distributor, the restaurant chain said Tuesday as health officials tried to pinpoint the source of the dangerous bacteria that sickened at least three dozen people.

Nine people remained hospitalized in New Jersey and New York, including an 11-year-old boy in stable condition with kidney damage.

Taco Bell Corp. said it had sanitized its nine closed restaurants and planned to reopen them on Tuesday. At the same time, spokesman Rob Poetsch said: "We have no indication what the source is. We're looking into all possibilities."

Restaurant industry

New York health officials ban trans fats at eateries

NEW YORK - The Board of Health voted Tuesday to make New York the nation's first city to ban artery-clogging artificial trans fats at restaurants.

The board, which passed the ban unanimously, did give restaurants a slight break by relaxing what had been considered a tight deadline for compliance. Restaurants will be barred from using most frying oils containing artificial trans fats by July and will have to eliminate the artificial trans fats from all of their foods by July 2008.


Congressmen critical of FCC move in AT&T deal

WASHINGTON - Two powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill Tuesday night sharply questioned a move by the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to "unrecuse" a fellow commissioner and thus allow him to vote on whether to approve the nation's largest telecommunications industry merger.

Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, wrote FCC Chairman Kevin Martin expressing his "disappointment" in Martin's "apparent willingness to waive government recusal rules" in order to enable former lobbyist and current commissioner Robert McDowell to vote on the proposed merger of AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. sent a letter to the FCC's general counsel asking 15 pointed questions about past precedent of such recusals and other issues.