Rite Aid was sued by Florida authorities for allegedly using cash registers programmed to overcharge pharmacy customers. The racketeering lawsuit accuses the drugstore chain of intentionally overcharging 29,000 uninsured customers more than $100,000 over a 27-month span, but prosecutor Mary Leontakianakos said, "There were a lot more." Leontakianakos said the Rite Aid policy was likely used in all its stores and her office has notified attorneys general in other states. Florida is seeking triple damages against the chain and fines of $10,000 or $15,000 for each violation.

U.S. airlines cut fares on most domestic and some European flights by as much as 40 percent in an effort to spur demand as they add seats and flights. Delta started the sale Tuesday and was quickly followed by Continental, TWA and other carriers. The airlines offered as much as 35 percent off fares plus another 5 percent reduction to customers who buy tickets through the airlines' Web sites.

The city of Miami and two former senior officials were charged by regulators with failing to disclose Miami's deteriorating financial condition while selling $116.5 million in 1995 municipal bonds. The Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that the city, former city manager Cesar Odio and former finance director Manohar Surana also deceived investors by overstating expected revenue in Miami's fiscal 1995 budget. The defendants' attorneys denied the charges.

ICN Pharmaceuticals shareholders rejected a proposal by the company's largest stockholder that called for the ousting of chairman and chief executive Milan Panic from the board by imposing a mandatory retirement age. Heartland Advisors, a mutual fund manager, submitted the proposal because of problems that have caused ICN's stock price to fall 14 percent this year.

Phelps Dodge increased its hostile takeover offers for Cyprus Amax Minerals and Asarco by 8.5 percent to $5.27 billion in an effort to end a month-long holdout by the smaller rival copper producers.

Stern Publishing is seeking to sell all seven of its free "alternative" weekly newspapers, including the Village Voice in New York. Other Stern weeklies are published in Los Angeles, Seattle, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Long Island and Orange County, Calif.

Demand for new employees eased in parts of the country by mid-September even though most regions were enjoying moderate to brisk rates of economic growth, the Federal Reserve said. In its latest "beige book" report on the national economy, the central bank said there were few reports of accelerating wages, and consumer prices were well behaved. But it reported more pressure on wholesale prices in a reference that was likely to keep inflation worries alive before the Fed's next meeting on interest rates on Oct. 5.

Florida sued Publishers Clearing House, saying its sweepstakes mailings continue a variety of deceptive practices that the company agreed to stop in a 1994 agreement with Florida and 13 other states. The state's attorney general is asking for $20 million in civil penalties and another $20 million in refunds to Florida consumers.

Xerox said it will buy the color-printing division of Tektronix for $950 million in a deal that will make Xerox second only to Hewlett-Packard in the office color printing market.

Daniel Ackerson, who stepped down in July as CEO of Reston-based wireless phone company Nextel Communications, took a job as chairman and chief executive of NextLink Communications of Bellevue, Wash.. Both Nextel and NextLink are controlled by wireless cellular pioneer Craig McCaw.

Global Crossing, a Bermuda-based company planning to build an undersea telecommunications network, said its shareholders approved the proposed $9 billion buyout of Frontier. Shareholders of Frontier, the fifth-largest U.S. long-distance carrier, are expected to vote.

United Technologies will eliminate 14,500 jobs and take a $1.15 billion charge to finance a restructuring program, the aerospace and defense supplier announced.


Toymaker Playmobile is recalling 5,500 toy flashlights that came with its Coastal Search and Rescue Boats toy sets because the spring in the flashlight's battery compartment can dislodge and cause the batteries to overheat or leak, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced. Toy set owners should take the flashlight, not the entire toy, away from children and call 1-800-699-6394 to receive a $5 refund.

More than 2,800 Buffalo Fluorescent Work Lights are being recalled. The work lights, which are made by New Buffalo of Chesterfield, Mo., have undersized wiring and exposed electrical parts on the plug that could shock consumers or cause fires. The lights, with model numbers PL-16, were sold between March 1996 and last December for $13. Consumers should call 1-800-568-6657 to find out how to obtain a refund.

EARNINGS Morgan Stanley Dean Witter said fiscal third-quarter profit rose 55 percent, to $970 million, led by investment banking and a recovery in asset management and trading, after losses from Russia's debt default cut earnings a year earlier.


A lawsuit filed against Columbia Energy Group of Herndon by spurned suitor NiSource was dismissed by a Delaware court. The suit alleged Columbia violated its corporate bylaws requiring it to have 13 board members and asked for a special shareholders meeting. The ruling does not affect two separate actions filed by NiSource against Columbia. One seeks to enjoin the gas utility from making false or misleading statements in connection with NiSource's tender offer. The other is to prevent Columbia from repurchasing shares.

Furniture maker Rowe of McLean said its earnings in the quarter ended Aug. 29 rose 31 percent, to $2.9 million. For the first nine months of its fiscal year, Rowe earnings grew 25 percent, to $9.1 million. Company officials said internal growth and the acquisitions of Mitchell Gold in 1998 and Storehouse in August benefited earnings.