Quaker Oats said it will eliminate as many as 1,200 jobs in North America, a tenth of its work force, and use the savings to promote its popular Gatorade sports drink. The company, which expects to take pretax charges of as much as $250 million over the next two years, plans to close an unspecified number of plants, combine food and beverage warehouse and delivery operations, and contract out some manufacturing.

The nation's retailers will be asked to report to the government how much of their business is done online, the Commerce Department said. The information will be gathered as part of the regular monthly survey the government conducts to compile its report on retail sales, a key indicator of how the economy is performing.

Ford and Microsoft announced a joint venture that will allow car buyers to search Ford stocks or even place custom orders from their home computers. Using Microsoft's CarPoint Web site, Ford will be able to match a customer's order with cars on dealer lots, in distribution centers or even on the factory floor. Sales will still be completed through dealerships.

United Auto Workers executive council members were unanimous in their support of a proposed four-year contract with DaimlerChrysler, UAW President Steve Yokich said. The council members, made up of local union presidents and chairmen, will return home to provide contract details to the 75,000 members, who will vote on the contract Saturday. The average DaimlerChrysler worker would receive an average of $29,300 in wage increases and bonuses over the next four years under the proposed contract, the Flint Journal reported.

Wal-Mart Stores has launched its first in-store computer-repair site as part of an experiment that could lead to the retailing giant offering computer services across the country.

Pizza Hut, under pressure from increased price competition, is experimenting with a delivery charge to help subsidize drivers' wages.

T-bill rates were mixed. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday was 4.660 percent, unchanged from last week. Rates on six-month bills fell to 4.890 percent from 4.925 percent. The actual return to investors is 4.794 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,882.20, and 5.097 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,752.80. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, fell to 5.26 percent last week, from 5.28 percent the previous week.

Consumer Reports is under fire by two Japanese automakers. Product-disparagement lawsuits, filed in Southern California by Suzuki and Isuzu, contend that the magazine rigged driving tests for its 1988 review of Suzuki's Samurai and its 1996 review of the Isuzu Trooper and its twin, the Isuzu-built Acura SLX. Consumer Reports called the sport-utility vehicles "not acceptable" and urged consumers not to buy them because they exhibited a dangerous propensity to roll over under emergency steering conditions. The magazine's publisher, Consumers Union, said it stands by its reviews and maintains that its right to criticize is protected by law.

Infoseek apparently fired a top executive who was arrested by the FBI last week and accused of using the Internet to solicit sex from a 13-year-old girl. Patrick J. Naughton, who was also responsible for some of Walt Disney Co.'s Internet efforts, "is no longer an employee of Infoseek," according to a statement from the Silicon Valley company, which is being acquired by Disney.


Sears Canada, the second-biggest department store chain in Canada, said it will buy T. Eaton Co. for $20 million in cash, plus an additional $13.3 million when it realizes a tax advantage of $117 million. Sears Canada, which is 55 percent owned by Sears, Roebuck of Chicago, said it will assume ownership of the Eaton's name, trademark and Web site and eight stores across the country. Eaton, the most famous name in Canadian retailing, had sought court protection from its creditors last month.