Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) expressed doubts that Congress will pass financial services legislation this year, given the complexity of unresolved disputes between Democrats and Republicans over the bill and the many other bills that lawmakers must deal with before the winter break. For two decades, the banking industry has been unable to obtain financial legislation that would make it easier for banks, insurers and securities firms to merge.

The United States and China agreed to restart talks on Beijing's entry to the World Trade Organization. The agreement by senior U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators came two days before a planned summit meeting in New Zealand between President Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Saturday. Beijing still must conclude separate negotiations with the European Union, "a number of other" countries and the WTO, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said.

Hasbro agreed to buy closely held Wizards of the Coast for about $325 million, adding the hot-selling Pokemon trading cards to its Risk, Clue and other games. Hasbro already is licensed to make Pokemon-related toys.

Two senior Viacom executives--deputy chairmen Tom Dooley and Phillippe Dauman--will each receive severance packages totaling nearly $41 million if Viacom's purchase of CBS is completed, according to federal filings. CBS would have to pay Viacom a $1 billion breakup fee if shareholders fail to approve the deal or if another unsolicited bidder acquires a majority stake in CBS.

A proposed merger of the lobby associations for the banking and savings and loan industries has been shelved after leaders from both industries couldn't agree on how the new organization would be structured.

Merger partners Cyprus Amax Minerals and Asarco said their boards of directors have rejected a $2.7 billion all-stock offer by Phelps Dodge to acquire both companies.

The Federal Trade Commission called on the alcohol industry to step up its voluntary enforcement efforts to avoid promoting alcohol to underage consumers. In a report to Congress, the FTC said the industry should set up an independent review board to make sure ads are not placed on TV shows with large underage viewers and products are not promoted in movies rated for PG-13 or younger audiences.

General Electric said it plans to cut 1,400 jobs at a refrigerator plant in Bloomington, Ind., or 44 percent of the plant's employees, and move some of the work to Mexico.

Reebok International said it plans to lay off 10 percent of its 6,600 workers worldwide, including 120 at its Massachusetts headquarters, in an attempt to cut costs and restructure its business.

Globalstar Telecommunications, which plans to build a satellite-based telephone network, said it expects its satellites to last 10 years, rather that 7 1/2 years it had predicted earlier.

Illinois Tool Works, which makes construction fasteners and packaging systems, agreed to buy Premark International, a maker of kitchen equipment and building products, for $3.4 billion in stock.

The federal fund that insures deposits of up to $100,000 at banks faces a greater risk of insolvency than it did a decade ago--and possibly the need for a taxpayer bailout--because of increased consolidation of the banking industry during the 1990s. The Federal Deposit Insurance Fund said while the probability of it becoming insolvent during the next 50 years remains low at 6.5 percent, that is still a hefty jump from the 3.9 percent probability the fund faced a decade ago.

RECALLS Warrick Pharmaceuticals is recalling a batch of prescription albuterol inhalers that are used to fight asthma attacks, after a patient bought an inhaler that turned out to be empty. The problem could be life threatening. The firm's albuterol metered-dose inhalers were distributed to pharmacies nationwide between late April and early May. Recalled inhalers bear the lot number 9-BBS-525. They should be returned to the place of purchase for a replacement.

INTERNATIONAL Nearly one-third of the foreign countries asked to divulge their airport and airline readiness for the year 2000 computer problem are more than two months late in doing so, U.S. officials said.