Manufacturing accelerated in August as new orders and export demand increased, a National Association of Purchasing Management survey showed. And an index of prices paid by factories rose to its highest level in four years. The NAPM's factory index rose to 54.2 for the month, from 53.4 during July. An index reading above 50 means that most manufacturers surveyed reported improved business. The index of prices paid, meanwhile, rose to 59.8 in August from 54.7 during July, indicating that more companies reported price increases during the month.

Gillette said buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts may sell part or all of its 4.7 percent stake in the company, 51.3 million shares worth about $2.4 billion at current prices.

America Online and eBay have launched a customized online site through which AOL members can take part in eBay auctions. The two companies said in March they would jointly develop the site on AOL and affiliated services as part of an agreement in which the online auctioneer will pay AOL $75 million over four years.

Apple Computer introduced a powerful new line of computers for professionals, an attempt to extend the company's rebound. The new "G4" machines cost between $1,600 and $3,500 and are aimed at business users such as architects, publishers and graphic designers. Apple chief executive Steve Jobs also announced a new 22-inch flat-panel display monitor, dubbed the Apple Cinema Display, which together with the top G4 model will sell for $6,500 in October. During an unveiling event, Jobs held a head-to-head race against an Intel Pentium III system and claimed the Apple machine was more than twice as fast.

International Business Machines won a $2 billion, five-year contract to supply Cisco Systems with computer chips and parts, extending the computer maker's push into the components business.

Oxy USA, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, agreed to pay $7.3 million to resolve Justice Department allegations that it underpaid royalties for oil extracted from government and Indian lands for 10 years.

Harte-Hanks, a San Antonio direct-marketing and media concern, said it agreed to buy Ziff-Davis's ZD Market Intelligence subsidiary for $101 million in cash and $5 million in assumed debt. ZD Market, formerly Computer Intelligence, tracks computer and telecommunications technology installed and planned at more than 375,000 business sites around the world.

Tyco International, a manufacturing and services company based in Bermuda, has agreed to buy AFC Cable Systems for about $575 million in stock, just days after AFC rejected a $487 million offer from Thomas & Betts.

Kaufman & Broad Home, the second-largest U.S. home builder, said it lost $12 million as a result of unauthorized trading by an employee in its mortgage unit. The losses will reduce fiscal third-quarter earnings by 26 percent, the company said. The Los Angeles-based company said it fired its lead mortgage trader, whom it refused to identify, after the person lost the money over a 60-day period. Kaufman & Broad said it is considering legal action against the employee.


Neiman Marcus Group, the department-store chain to be spun off by Harcourt General, said fiscal fourth-quarter profit plunged 83 percent, to $2.7 million, because it marked down prices and moved up a sales promotion.


The Maryland Chamber of Commerce selected Kathleen Snyder, president of the Alexandria chamber, as its new president, beginning Oct. 18. She replaces Champe McCullouch, who resigned in the spring.

Hechinger's $6.3 million employee-retention plan was approved by a U.S. bankruptcy judge. The package of bonuses and other incentives will help the Largo chain of home-improvement centers retain thousands of workers, including key executives, Hechinger officials said. Hechinger has had trouble keeping employees ever since it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June.

Borg-Warner Automotive, the world's biggest maker of automatic-transmission parts, agreed to sell its Kuhlman Electric unit to Washington-based buyout and venture-capital company Carlyle Group for about $119 million to concentrate on its automotive business.