Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. plans to close a Canadian plant and reduce its U.S. operations in moves that will cut its work force by 1,400 employees, as reported by the Associated Press. Smurfit-Stone indicated in an October statement that the cuts were needed because of slowing demand for packaging in the U.S. as manufacturing is being shifted overseas. The company plans to permanently close its corrugating medium mill in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and temporarily idle one paper machine in Jacksonville, FL. The actions will reduce Smurfit-Stone's annual containerboard capacity by about 515,000 tons, or 6 percent. The company also plans to permanently close a machine at its Philadelphia boxboard mill, which would reduce the company's coated boxboard capacity by about 70,000 tons annually, or 12 percent. Officials of Smurfit-Stone said the moves will result in an annual savings of $140 million, although the company expects to take a pretax charge of about $100 million in the fourth quarter. Smurfit-Stone shares fell 2 cents to close at $14.40 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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