Wal-Mart's proposed entry into the banking business prompted a community group to file a formal objection with regulators, a few days after the House Banking Committee chairman denounced the deal. Inner City Press/Community on the Move, based in New York, submitted its objection to the Office of Thrift Supervision on Thursday, the final day of the public comment period for Wal-Mart's proposed purchase of an Oklahoma savings and loan.

The 1999 Volvo S80 four-door car is the first passenger car to achieve the highest possible rating for side-impact crash tests, U.S. highway safety regulators said. The S80, made by Ford's Volvo car unit, received a five-star rating for side crash tests for both the front and back seats, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

PepsiCo has acknowledged filing the complaint that prompted a European investigation of charges Coca-Cola is illegally trying to force competitors out of the market. While Pepsi refrained from beating up on its rival during Coke's recent contamination scare in Belgium, analysts say the No. 2 soft-drink maker is trying to gain a competitive edge by distracting Coke with regulatory and legal challenges. Pepsi formally filed its complaint June 1.

Safeway has agreed to acquire Dallas-based Randall's Food Markets for $1.8 billion in cash, stock and assumed debt. The acquisition will expand Safeway's base into Texas and is part of a general round of acquisitions by the nation's major supermarkets to meet the new low-cost competition from such chains as Wal-Mart and Kmart. Safeway is the nation's third-largest supermarket chain behind Kroger and Albertsons.

Suiza Foods, the nation's largest dairy producer and distributor, has agreed to buy Valley of Virginia Cooperative Milk Producers Association, which sells milk and other dairy products in the Washington area under the Shenandoah Pride brand name. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed. Valley of Virginia had revenue of slightly more than $200 million in the fiscal year ended Feb. 28. The purchase will allow Suiza to expand in the mid-Atlantic region.

The Federal Trade Commission's top competition watchdog, William Baer, will leave the agency later this year, the agency said. Baer's duties as director of the FTC's competition bureau will be taken over by his senior deputy, Richard Parker.

Newport News Shipbuilding and the United Steelworkers of America reached a tentative contract agreement to end the three-month-old strike against the shipyard. The agreement, which workers are expected to vote on early next week, provides for wage increases of about 20 percent over a 58-month period, an increase in the monthly pension from $500 to $900 during the same time frame and a cap on medical benefits paid to future retirees.


Mazda recalled thousands of sedans and sports coupes to replace a fuel system that could allow fumes to pollute the air. The company also recalled its new model 2000 MPV minivans to fix a sliding door latch that could open unexpectedly. The fuel system recall is for 172,154 of the model 626 sedans and MX-6 sport coupes sold between 1995 and 1997. Only 238 of the minivans have been sold so far and their owners will be notified by telephone.


Merck reported second-quarter earnings of $1.48 billion, a 12 percent increase from the level of a year earlier. The company attributed the increase mostly to strong U.S. sales of its cholesterol-lowering pill Zocor and its pharmacy benefit management business.

Allied Waste Industries, the third-largest U.S. trash company, said its second-quarter profit rose 41 percent. The company, which is preparing to complete its acquisition of Browning-Ferris Industries, said net income was $54.5 million, compared with $38.6 million a year earlier. The year-earlier results excluded unusual and acquisition-related charges.

Fairchild, which makes high-precision fasteners for the aerospace industry, said its fourth-quarter profit will not meet the estimates of analysts. The company said its results were being adversely affected by delayed orders from Boeing and the costs of a recent acquisition. Analysts had expected Fairchild to earn 65 to 67 cents a share. Fairchild did not say how much it expects to earn in the period ended June 30.

Chevron said its earnings dropped 39 percent in the second quarter, to $350 million, due to persistent refinery problems in California, weakness in Asian economies and restructuring costs. Much of the loss was blamed on a fire at Chevron's Richmond, Calif., refinery and other operational problems that cost the company $100 million in earnings as Chevron had to sell higher-priced oil bought from third parties.