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Transition of Power: Bush Wraps Up Economic Conference

Aired January 4, 2001 - 2:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The new year brings a surging stock market, along with a new administration talking tax cuts. All this amid worries over job cutbacks and increasing concern about high- priced power that can send shock waves nationwide.

On Wall Street at this hour, the major averages are showing little change. However, last hour the Dow passed the 11000 mark. It hasn't done that since September. And there you see where the Dow industrials stand right now at 10960.

Yesterday, the Dow, of course, soared nearly 300 points. The Nasdaq scored its biggest one-day gain ever following that surprise cut in interest rates. Indicators of a slowing economy may be found in a new jobs report out today. A private firm which tracks employment says U.S. companies last month announced nearly 134,000 job cuts. That's nearly three times as many as the December before.

The economy is on the mind of President-elect George W. Bush at this hour. He's wrapping up a conference with high-tech business leaders.

CNN's Major Garrett is in Austin, where Bush is looking at ways to help tarnished blue-chip companies -- Major.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, the second day of the Bush economic conference focuses on the high-tech world. And the Bush team really believes that one of the best barometers about the future of the U.S. economy is the high-tech world. They're on the cutting edge not only of technological development, but they're also very much customer service oriented. The Bush team believes that talking and sitting down with high-tech executives will give them the best information about the future of the U.S. economy. That's what's happening now.

Among those who are here meeting with the President-elect in Austin, the head of America Online, Steve Case; Lou Gerstner, the head of IBM; also, the top corporate chiefs from Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems, Cisco and Dell.

But there's also a political dimension to this as well. The new economy is also bringing new political clout in Washington, and the Bush team wants to make sure it has an open channel of communication to all of these big industry leaders, make sure that they understand their concerns well and are ready to respond to them. So very definitely an economic issue on the table here, but also trying to build some long-standing political relationships as well -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And we do expect to hear from the president-elect soon.

GARRETT: Very shortly he's going to make himself at what we call a photo opportunity. A small group of reporters will be able to throw a couple of questions at him about the economy; also some developments on Capitol Hill. We hope to throw him a question about campaign finance reform.

He will probably also underscore his support for a $1.3 trillion tax cut which he intends to submit to Congress. He said yesterday that the Fed's move to cut interest rates by a half a point only underscored the reason for that tax cut to be approved, because, he said, along with interest rate cut, the economy needs stimulus in the form of a large tax cut -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Major Garrett, thanks from Austin.

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