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World Briefs II

Greenspan Gives Strong Signal Of Interest Rate Hike

Los Angeles Times

In oblique but relatively transparent terms, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan sent his strongest signal to date Thursday that the Fed is on the verge of boosting interest rates.

With underlying indicators raising new concerns that the expanding economy could no longer fend off inflationary pressures, Greenspan's comments to the congressional Joint Economic Committee spun Wall Street into turmoil.

Greenspan, in the view of many analysts, has been itching to raise rates for some time. Gary Schlossberg, a senior economist at Wells Capital Management of San Francisco, said the chairman's latest testimony "sounded like a dress rehearsal for a post-tightening press conference."

The Fed's policy-making Federal Open Market Committee will have an opportunity to raise rates when it meets next Tuesday. The federal funds rate, which is the interest that banks charge each other on overnight loans, is 5.25 percent, and an increase to 5.5 percent, a likely target, would ripple throughout the financial community and boost all market-driven short-term rates.

In his regularly scheduled testimony to the Joint Economic Committee, Greenspan said the U.S. economic performance had been "quite favorable." But, in a warning of inflationary pressures, he said: "Demand has been growing quite strongly in recent months."

Human Genome Sciences Plans Human Drug Tests

The Washington Post

Human Genome Sciences Inc. of Rockville, Md. this week completed an $111 million stock offering, selling 3 million shares at $37 each to raise money to conduct its first two human drug trials and develop new robotic research techniques.

The company's chief executive officer, William Haseltine, would not say which diseases the company hopes to target. The first trial will begin this year, he said, and the second in 1998.

HGS is deciphering the genetic codes of humans and microorganisms with the aim of developing tests and drugs to detect, prevent and treat various diseases. The company has said its researchers have been studying six proteins for possible development into new drugs.

The trials will test two of these six. They will be the first steps of many needed to prove to Food and Drug Administration regulators that the HGS is deciphering genetic codes with the aim of developing tests and drugs to detect, prevent and treat various diseases.proteins are safe and effective therapeutic drugs.

The trials also will be among the first to test chemicals against a disease based on information gathered from the human genetic code.

The tests underscore HGS's determination to develop drugs exclusively owned by the company. HGS has depended on funding from its corporate partner, pharmaceutical giant SmithKline Beecham PLC, to develop much of its information on genes. The two proteins to be tested in initial trials are among the six that HGS has exclusive rights to develop into drugs based on knowledge from its own gene bank.