Phelps Dodge received antitrust approval from the Justice Department for its proposed $5.25 billion takeover of rival copper firms Cyprus Amax and Asarco, eliminating one of the reasons earlier offers were rejected. But a fourth company, Grupo Mexico, entered the picture with a cash offer for Asarco that topped Phelps Dodge's bid.

Rite Aid cut 330 jobs, about half of them near its Camp Hill, Pa., headquarters, in a move the drugstore chain said would save $31.5 million. The layoffs came just a day after the company disclosed plans to close a distribution center in Utah and eliminate 500 jobs. The company, which employs about 85,000 people overall, has struggled over the past year, reporting a 39 percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings.

Allstate stock plummeted after the insurer said third-quarter earnings would come in well below expectations, citing losses from Hurricane Floyd and intense competition. The nation's largest publicly held insurance company also revised its fourth-quarter earnings forecast sharply downward. Allstate stock tumbled $3.50, to $28.25 a share, a decline of almost 11 percent.

U.S. property and casualty insurers will pay about $1.3 billion to settle more than 500,000 claims from Hurricane Floyd, according to an industry estimate. The figure was higher than a preliminary estimate of $800 million issued a week ago. Hardest hit was North Carolina, which had $835 million of insured losses, according to the Insurance Services Office, which tracks claims for insurers.

AutoNation has hired Michael J. Jackson, the president of Mercedes-Benz USA, as its chief executive in a move intended to bolster the company's management as it tries to build a national brand and shift from selling used cars to new ones. Jackson, 50, will replace Steven Berrard, AutoNation's co-founder, who resigned two months ago.

INTERNATIONAL

The Bank of Scotland launched a hostile $34.3 billion takeover bid for National Westminster Bank. NatWest, which is three times bigger than Bank of Scotland, quickly rejected the offer, and its shares soared as analysts speculated that other bidders might join the pursuit.

The IMF reached agreement with Colombia on economic targets for the next three years, clearing the way for Bogota to receive up to $3 billion in credits. If the accord is approved by the IMF's board of directors, it would be the first time Colombia has acceded to a formal agreement with the fund since 1971.

The Lands' End money-back guarantee, no matter what, sent German retail rivals running to Germany's highest court, which ruled the guarantee was "economically unfeasible" and therefore amounted to unfair competition. After the court granted a ban on advertisements publicizing the deal, Dodgeville, Wis.-based Lands' End responded with ads in German newspapers and magazines poking fun at the ban.

DaimlerChrysler has formally declared itself a "single company" with its announcement of the elimination of its post-merger transition team and the streamlining of its 17-member management board. Both actions appeared to consolidate German control over the new firm, formed last year through a buyout of Chrysler by Daimler-Benz, Germany's largest industrial power.

LOCAL BUSINESS

America Online of Dulles said it has nominated Marjorie M. Scardino, chief executive of international media company Pearson, to its board of directors. If Scardino is voted in at AOL's next annual shareholder's meeting in October, she would be the first woman director at AOL. Scardino would replace William Melton, chairman and chief executive of CyberCash, who is stepping down from the board when his term expires next month. Melton had been an AOL director since 1992.