Friday, April 18, 2008

AT&T to layoff 4,650 employees

(Wichita Business Journal - St. Louis Business Journal) AT&T Inc. is laying off 4,650 employees, or 1.5 percent of its workforce, in order to operate more efficiently after bringing together several companies in recent years, according to a regulatory filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The job cuts are primarily among management employees. AT&T is streamlining its operations particularly in non-customer-facing areas so that the company is more focused on customers, according to the filing. The company's overall headcount is expected to remain stable in 2008, though, as the company hires additional employees to support growth areas, according to the filing. Those growth areas include AT&T's wireless, home TV and broadband businesses.

"It's important to put the announcement in context. AT&T is a huge organization, with more than 300,000 employees," Walt Sharp, AT&T spokesman, said in a statement. "We are constantly adjusting our headcount, primarily to get more employees into our growth areas. The bottom line is that we remain one of America's largest employers and we are putting jobs where our customers are." AT&T will take a pre-tax charge of $374 million in the first quarter of 2008 associated with these force reductions. San Antonio-based AT&T Inc. provides local and long-distance telephone and Internet service in Missouri and Illinois.

Oil eases from record over $115

(Reuters) - Oil prices slipped from record highs on Thursday after a drop in U.S. inventories and the weaker dollar had pushed prices above $115 a barrel. U.S. crude settled down 7 cents at $114.86 a barrel after rallying to an all-time peak of $115.54. London Brent settled 23 cents lower at $112.43 a barrel, off the record $113.38 set earlier. U.S. crude inventories fell unexpectedly last week, while a drop in gasoline stocks exceeded analyst expectations, a government report said on Wednesday, raising supply concerns as the world's top consumer gears up for the summer driving season. Gasoline stocks in the United States fell by 5.5 million barrels in the latest week, more than the 1.8-million-barrel decline analysts had expected. "Summer driving season is approaching. And, even in a recessionary economy, seasonal gasoline demand will pick up, which adds to stress on the global oil supply chain," Jan Stuart at UBS said in a research note. "But, before we get there, the stress already put onto the supply chain globally by middle distillate demand and supply dynamics is not still abating," he added. In the latest indication of strong demand for middle distillates, China's top refiners were set to extend high imports into a sixth straight month. Oil prices have more than quadrupled since 2002 as supply struggles to keep up with booming demand, especially in China and other emerging economies. The slide in the U.S. dollar has supported prices for oil and other dollar-denominated commodities, luring investors seeking to hedge against inflation and compensate for the shrinking value of dollar assets in their portfolios. The dollar pared gains after the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's business index fell sharply in April, adding to concern about the health of the U.S. economy. Earlier, the dollar had gained against the euro after Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of euro zone finance ministers, spoke out against the single currency's rise.