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Stock prices lost ground Thursday amid increasing doubts about the staying power of the rally that greeted the start of 1990.

The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials, up 56.95 points Tuesday but down 0.42 on Wednesday, dropped 13.65 to 2,796.08.Declining issues outnumbered advances by about 7 to 5 in nationwide trading of New York Stock Exchange-listed stocks, with 645 up, 924 down and 418 unchanged.

Volume on the floor of the Big Board came to 177 million shares, against 192.33 million in the previous session.

Analysts said the market appeared to be suffering, a bit paradoxically, from signs that the economy was maintaining stronger-than-expected momentum as the new year began.

That dampened hopes for any further easing soon in the Federal Reserve's credit policy and raised new questions about the outlook for interest rates.


The manager of marketing for the North Carolina State Ports Authority will relocate his office from Wilmington to Greensboro, where he will spearhead a new marketing effort directed at the state's importers and exporters.

The relocation of Donald Black Jr. will improve the authority's direct contact with businesses that use the ports or are potential users, said NCSPA Director of Business Development Robert Jacobi.

Crimson-NJP, an affiliate of Crimson Capital of Greensboro, has acquired New Jersey Publishing, Inc., which publishes more than 100 local yellow page telephone directories in New Jersey and in selected areas of New York and Pennsylvania.

Crimson said John S. Chamberlain will be chief executive officer and chairman of New Jersey Publishing, based in Teaneck, N.J. He was formerly president and chief operating officer of Avon Products.

Crimson Capital is a privately owned investment firm with offices in Greensboro and Hackensack, N.J. Combined sales of its five operating companies exceed $150 million.

Environmental Diagnostics Inc. of Burlington said that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has allowed two of its patent applications directed to filter-based immunoassays and devices.

The applications cover the company's EZ-Screen Quick-Card testing system and colorimetric testing devices. Both applications are expected to issue patents soon.

James Skinner, president and chief executive officer, said the patents will put the company ``in a pre-eminent, competitive position with respect to immunoassay test devices being marketed.'


Ingersoll Publications said it has reached an agreement in principle to sell The Courier-Tribune of Asheboro to Donrey Media Group of Las Vegas. No price was announced on that sale, which Ingersoll said was scheduled to close around Feb. 1.

Donrey Media Group already owns 58 daily newspapers and 70 non-daily newspapers, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal, said Terry Johnson, a spokesman for the company. It also has five cable television franchises and a license to operate a television station.

Ingersoll, of Princeton, N.J., owns newspapers in New Jersey, New York, New England and the Midwest.


Cosmetics maker Avon Products Inc. said Thursday it has given up the idea of selling its Giorgio Beverly Hills retail fragrance division.

A company spokeswoman said potential buyers didn't make adequate offers.

The company also said the sale of its smaller retail subsidiary, Parfums Stern, has been completed. Parfums Stern was bought for $210 million in cash by Safrep, an affiliate of Sanofi, the diversified French company specializing in perfumes and beauty products, pharmaceuticals and food ingredients.

Parfums Stern markets the Oscar de la Renta, Cher, Perry Ellis and Deneuve fragrances.

MCI Communications Corp. and Telefonos de Mexico SA said Thursday that they have signed an agreement to provide direct voice and other telecommunications services between the United States and Mexico.

The accord marks the first time in its history that Telefonos de Mexico has connected its Mexican network with more than one U.S. carrier for the provision of voice services, MCI said in a statement. American Telephone & Telegraph Co., MCI's biggest competitor, has been the only U.S. company in that position for several years.

Westinghouse Broadcasting Co. said Thursday it has paid $18.7 million for a 15 percent stake in Castle Rock Entertainment, a television and motion picture production company.

Group W Productions, a subsidiary of New York-based Westinghouse Broadcasting, and Los Angeles-based Castle Rock will establish a division to produce television programming for first-run syndication, Westinghouse Broadcasting said in a written statement.

Castle Rock produces ``Ann Jillian' for NBC and is working on two other network television comedies to be launched later this year. It also produced ``When Harry Met Sally,' a movie starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.


Braniff Inc. has named David Murchison, 41, as chief executive officer. Murchison's appointment was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division. Murchison formerly was vice president, general counsel and secretary of Braniff. Murchison was vice president and assistant general counsel of Piedmont Airlines from 1985 to September 1988.

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