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LONG ISLAND

Kimco Realty 1Q profits fall

New Hyde Park-based Kimco Realty's cash flow improved in the first quarter while its profits shrank, the company reported. The real estate investment trust's recurring funds from operations increased to $121.2 million, a $5.6 million increase. Occupancy was up 0.2 percent to 92.8 percent. Profits fell to $32 million from $53.6 million, primarily due to a decrease in nonrecurring income and higher depreciation numbers. "The numbers were pretty much in line with what [Wall] Street was expecting," said David Harris, an analyst at the investment bank Gleacher & Co. Kimco owns and operates 948 shopping centers that contain 138 million square feet of leasable space in the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America. The rise in Internet retail sales has led the company to look toward alternative tenants.

Allstate suit cites doc scheme

Allstate Insurance in Hauppauge Thursday filed a $4.7-million fraud suit in what it calls a "doc-in-the-box" scheme in which doctors allegedly sold the use of their names and licenses for laypeople to start medical businesses. A New Jersey-based radiologist conspired with five other doctors to act as "paper owners" in medical diagnostic companies, such as those that provide MRIs, according to the suit. The 20 defendants, including four people from Nassau and eight clinics in New York City, billed Allstate in claims for car accidents covered by no-fault policies, the suit said. Under New York State law, medical professional corporations must be owned and controlled by licensed, medical professionals, the suit said. Also under state law, such fraudulently incorporated businesses are not eligible to get no-fault payouts, the suit said. Allstate said New Jersey-based radiologist John Lyons, who reviewed MRIs for the clinics, did scans that served "no legitimate diagnostic purpose." Lyons could not be reached for comment. Simon Korenblit, one defendant and the manager of Atlantic Imaging in Brooklyn, said he did not know about the suit but said the allegations are false. "They're just trying to find a reason not to pay," he said.

NATION

Market falls as oil slidesA free-fall in commodities and an unexpected jump in unemployment claims put financial markets on edge Thursday, dragging the stock market lower. Oil prices fell nearly $10, or 9 percent, to close below $100 a barrel for the first time since mid-March. Silver lost 8 percent to settle at $34.41; the metal already had its biggest one-day drop in three decades on Tuesday and is nearly $16 off its high of $50 reached last week. And gold fell $34 to $1,480.90 an ounce. Stock indexes fell after the Labor Department said that first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose to 474,000 last week, the highest level in eight months. Forecasters didn't see it coming. Economists had expected claims would drop to 410,000. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 139.41 points, or 1.10 percent, to 12,584.17. The Standard & Poor's 500 dropped 12.22, or 0.90 percent, to 1,335.10. The Nasdaq composite fell 13.51, or 0.48 percent, to 2,814.72.

Gain in productivity slows

U.S. companies squeezed more work out of their staffs in the first three months of the year, but the gain in productivity was much slower than the previous three months. Productivity rose at an annual rate of 1.6 percent in the January-March period compared to a 2.9 percent increase in the previous quarter, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Labor costs rose at a 1 percent annual rate in the January-March period after falling 1 percent in the previous three months. A slowdown in productivity growth is bad for the economy if it persists for a long period. But it can be good in the short term when unemployment is high, because it signals companies must hire more workers in order to make further gains.

Compiled with wire service reports

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