Dollars & Sense

Worst week for Dow since March 2003

Wall Street finished a dismal week with a mixed perform- ance Friday as investors grappled with fears about insurers of distressed mortgage-backed bonds and anxiety about the broader economy. The Dow Jones industrial average, which rose in earlier trading, fell more than 60 points, while the Nasdaq composite index managed a gain. Both ended the week down more than 4 percent, however, and it was the Dow's worst week, percentage-wise, since March 2003.

Modesto firm fined for pesticide sale

A Modesto-based company will pay a $56,200 fine for selling a pesticide outside California without permission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday. The company, Veterinary Services Inc., on Bangs Avenue, sold Tomcat Ground Squirrel and Gopher Bait in Nevada and Arizona even though it was registered only for sale in California, the agency said. The violation was discovered during a routine inspection by the Nevada Department of Agriculture, the EPA said. The fine is part of a settlement with the company. In a written statement, company President John Scheuber said it neither admits nor denies the allegation, which he described as "an inadvertent inventory error." He also said the EPA at first sought a $130,000 fine but relented when the company objected.

USDA extends ban at slaughterhouse

Federal officials extended a ban on the use of meat from a Chino slaughterhouse shut down this week on suspicion of mistreating cattle, and said the facility had been previously cited for using electric prods on animals. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture told reporters Friday that problems documented in a 2005 "noncompliance record" appeared to have been corrected -- until a tape released by the Humane Society last week showed new abuses of cattle at Westland/ Hallmark Meat Co. The 2005 audit found too much electric prodding of cattle and other violations of federal humane slaughter policies at the Westland plant in Chino.

Coming Sunday

Consumer Reports' latest tests found that many of this year's budget-friendly washers and dryers perform at very high levels.