Early Briefing: A Look at the Area's Economy

On Mondays, we turn the Business section over to local news. In today's Washington Business, we start by taking a closer look at what might lie ahead for the economy, both locally and nationally.

* Different visions of the region's economic outlook could be found in the financial results filed last week by major companies that form the backbone of the Washington's two major economic sectors. Big government contractors Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics reported solid gains in fourth-quarter profit and offered forecasts for healthy growth, at least for the near future. But major financial services companies Capital One and Sallie Mae painted a far gloomier picture, with sharp declines in earnings for the last quarter and little prospect of a rebound in the short term. See story.

* Fannie Mae chief executive >Daniel H. Mudd writes in this commentary that more must be done to jump start the nation's struggling housing market as part of policymakers' plans to stimulate the broader U.S. economy.

* In Sunday's paper, we learned that developers are scaling back or dropping projects as the real estate market languishes and lending terms have gotten tougher. See story.

* * *

In other local business news:

* W.R. Grace is staking the company's future on its ability to get a bulk of the asbestos claims it faces thrown out by a bankruptcy court judge. The move comes as part of the Columbia-based chemical maker's effort to emerge from Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings. See story.

* Henry Louis Gates is teaming up with the Washington Post Co.'s online subsidiary to create "The Root", a new Internet site devoted to African American news and culture. The new site, which began coming together in October, will also feature a geneology application. See story.

* Four years after selling his stake in a fast-growing government contracting firm, local tech executive W. Scott Amey has jumped back into the federal services business with the purchase of Alexandria-based Amyx. See story

* Sallie Mae chief executive Albert Lord was restrained and apologetic during last week's meeting with investors and analysts - a marked contrast to his combative posture during a similar session in December.

* Discovery Communications' headquarters in Silver Spring has won top honors for its environmental friendly design and the green-conscious practices of the company's workers.

* The announcement of a stock offering caps a busy week for Middlebrook Pharmaceuticals in which the drug maker won approval for its once-a-day treatment for strep throat.

By Mike Shepard  |  January 28, 2008; 5:53 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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