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Britain canceled a June round of talks on a new aviation agreement, angering some U.S. officials, who were dismayed by the latest snag in years of troubled efforts to expand air traffic between the two countries. "We need more time to refine our negotiating position," a government spokesman said in London. A British Embassy spokeswoman in Washington said the meeting would likely be rescheduled for early July.
Brazil agreed to curb exports of hot-rolled steel to the United States to avoid tariffs that could drive it from the market, a move that may deepen a rift between the Clinton administration and U.S. steelmakers, which oppose the accord. Under the plan, Brazil steel companies would limit exports to 295,000 metric tons a year for five years, a reduction of about 28 percent from last year. The United States, in turn, would agree to end an investigation into Brazilian government subsidies of steelmakers.
The banking industry could face new restrictions if it fails to curb abusive practices of banks that profit from selling customers' financial information, warned the comptroller of the currency, John D. Hawke Jr. Speaking at a San Francisco banking conference, Hawke criticized banks that sell information such as account balances and credit card purchases to telemarketers that use it to profile customers and charge them without their knowledge when they express interest in a "trial membership."
Walt Disney Co. said it's in talks to buy the 57 percent of Infoseek that it doesn't already own and may combine the No. 4 Internet search directory with its own online properties. Disney said it may buy the rest of Infoseek's shares, valued at about $1.53 billion, in exchange for a new class of Disney stock that would track the combined performance of Infoseek and Disney's Internet operations.
Intel, the No. 1 computer-chip maker, cut prices on its low-cost Celeron microprocessors by as much as 21 percent as it works to gain in the market for cheap personal computers. Intel cut the price of its 433-megahertz Celeron to $113 from $143. The 466-megahertz version was reduced 13 percent, to $147. The new prices took effect yesterday for computer makers that buy in lots of 1,000 units.
Amazon.com said it was the first electronic-commerce store to register its 10 millionth customer, as strong demand for its new auctions business bolstered its online book, music and video operations. Amazon.com said its customer base has more than tripled, from 3 million in June 1998. The retailer started selling books online in July 1995.
T-bill rates were mixed. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday fell to 4.510 percent from 4.620 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills rose to 4.760 percent from 4.750 percent. The actual return to investors is 4.638 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,886, and 4.958 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,759.40. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, rose to 5.08 percent last week from 4.93 percent the previous week.
Consumer borrowing rose $3.8 billion, to $1.335 trillion, in April, led by auto loans and credit card debt, the Fed said. Revolving loans, which include credit cards, increased $3.2 billion after falling $400 million in March. Auto loans rose $2.2 billion, compared with $5.4 billion in March.
DuPont will cut production and eliminate 1,400 jobs, or about 14 percent of its work force, in its money-losing polyester unit to save $90 million annually. About 80 percent of the cuts will be in North America.
Harnischfeger Industries, a manufacturer of mining and paper-making machinery, is seeking protection from its creditors in a bankruptcy protection filing and said it would stop paying interest on its debt of approximately $1.3 billion. The Milwaukee-based company had reported a $90.7 million loss in the six months ended April 30. Chief executive John Nils Hanson said the company had been hurt by global economic problems.
Prudential, the largest U.S. life insurer, has paid about $1 billion to 250,000 policyholders in a class-action lawsuit that claimed the company's agents misled customers. Prudential has contacted 649,000 claimants with details of the settlement, reached in 1997 over allegations that agents used questionable methods to sell life insurance policies.
SBC Communications and Ameritech, in a bid to get Illinois state regulators to approve their $85 billion combination, said they will deploy high-speed access and provide rural and low-income consumers in the state with access to new technologies and services. Illinois law requires the state commerce commission to ensure that utility takeovers won't harm consumers. The companies made the new commitments after the commission requested more information last week on SBC's plans to buy Ameritech.
Cephalon agreed to pay $17 million to settle a lawsuit by shareholders who alleged that executives misrepresented prospects for Myotrophin, a drug for treating Lou Gehrig's disease, and then profited from the run-up in the stock price. Myotrophin still hasn't received final FDA approval.
Motorola and Cisco Systems will buy part of Bosch Telecom for an undisclosed price and form a company specializing in wireless technology that can carry voice, data and video at high speeds. Sales in the so-called local multipoint distribution services (LMDS) market are expected to rise almost tenfold by 2003.
Northwest Airlines flight attendants, without a contract since 1996, voted to call a union strike if necessary. Last month, the attendants said they would ask to be released from contract talks if there is no progress during the next round of negotiations. If mediators release them from talks, a 30-day cooling-off period would precede a strike.
McDonald's halted sales of ice cream and milkshakes in its restaurants in five European countries amid concern about harmful chemicals found in Belgian farm products. The company said the move was precautionary and the sales may resume soon. Fat tainted with cancer-causing dioxin is believed to have gotten into animal feed starting in mid-January.
Indonesia's stock market leapt 11 percent in early trading today and the local currency firmed after the nation's first democratic election in decades passed peacefully. The Jakarta composite index sprinted ahead at the open and the rupiah stood almost 5 percent firmer than its pre-election levels after Indonesia took its historic stride toward democracy.
CAPTION: Treasury Bills (This graphic was not available)