• DILLARD’S DOUBTFUL DEBT: Moody’s Investors Service on Friday placed Dillard’s Inc.’s debt ratings on review for a possible downgrade, citing the regional department store chain’s “inability to sustain the performance improvements gained during the last fiscal year.” Moody’s added that, while the Little Rock, Ark.-based firm’s gross margins have been pressured along with those of its competitors, Dillard’s inventory levels were still at “undesirable levels through the end of the second quarter.”

  • WAL-MART CLEARED: The National Labor Relations Board said Friday that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. did not violate any laws during the campaigning of a union election in the Wal-Mart Tire and Lube Express department at its Lake Elsinore, California store in 2000. The Food and Commercial Workers Local 1167 blocked the election at the last minute and filed a complaint on January 5, 2001 accusing Wal-Mart of trying to dissuade 19 employees from supporting the union during the campaign period. The NLRB determined that Wal-Mart’s increased effort to resolve employee’s grievances during a period before the election, from January through April 2000, was not unlawful. When employees at a store show interest in unionizing, it is customary for Wal-Mart to send representatives to the store to take part in the election campaign, the ruling said.

  • SENATORS PUSH CHINA TARIFFS: Pressure on the Bush administration to act against China for not letting its currency float freely increased Friday from his own party. Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), teamed up with New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer to introduce a bill that would slap 27.5 percent tariffs on Chinese imports until China adjusts its currency, which critics say is sorely undervalued.

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