General Motors has agreed to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit involving a man killed by fire from the fuel tank of a 1985 Chevrolet Chevette. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. It was reached about one week before the trial was scheduled to begin in Atlanta. Earlier this month, the presiding judge found evidence that GM had improperly intended to keep details of a 1973 cost-benefit analysis secret. The analysis of fire-related deaths in GM vehicles showed the company could prevent such fires by spending $2.40 per vehicle in safety improvements.

Northeast Utilities agreed to pay the biggest fine in the 40-year history of the U.S. nuclear-power industry for lying about the qualifications of some of its plant-operator trainees and for illegally discharging pollutants into Long Island Sound, authorities said. Berlin, Conn.-based Northeast, New England's biggest electric utility, will pay $10 million after two of its subsidiaries pleaded guilty to 25 felony counts of making false statements to federal regulators and environmental violations at the Millstone nuclear power plants in Waterford, Conn.

Huffy said it will stop making bicycles in the United States, closing its plants in Missouri and Mississippi by year's end. The plants' 590 employees--18 percent of its work force--will be laid off. Huffy said it was closing the plants because it cannot compete with cheaper imports from China. It said it plans to continue making bicycles with partners around the world.

Lycos, the No. 3 World Wide Web search service, said that in a bid to increase traffic it will pay people who have free home pages through its Tripod service if they attract a certain number of visitors each day. People whose Tripod home pages lure enough visitors to flash 100 online ads a day will be paid 50 cents for each 1,000 ads displayed. Lycos shares rose $1.43 3/4, to $48.37 1/2.

Americans use the Internet to send and receive electronic mail more than for any other activity, according to a recent survey. E-mail as a primary use for the Internet this year surpassed researching information, which ranked first in 1998, a consumer-technology study from PricewaterhouseCoopers found. About 48 percent of 800 people surveyed by phone between July 21 and Aug. 3 said they spend most of their online time sending or receiving e-mail, up from 27 percent last year. About 28 percent go online to find information, down from 44 percent.

Westinghouse Air Brake and MotivePower Industries reversed roles in a revised $354.8 million stock-swap merger that would create North America's largest rail-parts maker. Westinghouse Air, the largest maker of rail-car brakes, would exchange 0.66 shares of its stock for each share of MotivePower, and its executives would lead the new Westinghouse Air Brake. Under the original $557 million agreement announced in June, Westinghouse shareholders were to exchange their stock for shares in MotivePower, and the new company would keep the MotivePower name and be led by its top executive.

Fidelity Investments is offering its customers enhanced Internet services in partnership with the Lycos online search service. Fidelity, the largest U.S. mutual fund company, said the new services will be offered under the Powerstreet name, a new brand to be supported by an extensive advertising campaign. Fidelity declined to discuss the advertising budget or terms of its partnership with Lycos.

T-bill rates were mixed. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday rose to 4.72 percent, from 4.66 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills fell to 4.81 percent, from 4.89 percent. The actual return to investors is 4.856 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,880.70, and 5.013 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,756.80. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, declined to 5.23 percent last week, from 5.26 percent the previous week.

IBM unveiled a storage-server system for companies to manage data on networks, a move to try to regain its lead in the storage market. Prices range from $864,000 for 1.7 terabytes of memory to $1.5 million for a system with 3.6 terabytes.

Shoney's said it will close 72 restaurants and sell nine more, eliminating 2,351 jobs, to boost profit. The company said it will take a $5.3 million fourth-quarter charge. It also will sell five Charlotte restaurants to franchisee Graham Foods and four to Bud Foods for an undisclosed price. The restaurants to be closed are in 14 states, including Maryland and Virginia.

INTERNATIONAL

A Japanese firm named executives at Princeton Economics International and Republic New York Corp.'s securities division in a complaint filed in Tokyo in connection with a securities-fraud case that allegedly bilked Japanese investors out of about $1 billion. The complaint was filed by the Japanese branch of Cresvale International. Both Cresvale and Princeton Economics are controlled by Martin A. Armstrong Jr., a market forecaster based in Princeton, N.J.

The Canadian Auto Workers ratified a new contract with Ford and announced it will now begin negotiations with DaimlerChrysler. The deal provides combined salary and cost-of-living increases of 4.5 percent in each of its three years. It also offers a one-time signing bonus of $678 and improved pension benefits.

U.S. and Chinese negotiators met in Washington for several hours to try to craft terms by which the United States would support China's entry into the World Trade Organization. Tom Tripp, spokesman for the U.S. trade representative, described the talks as "useful" and said the time and logistics for the next meeting had not yet been set.

Eastman Kodak has almost completed the initial stage of more than $1 billion in investments in China and will accelerate its marketing soon. Kodak, the No. 1 film seller in China last year, bought three government-owned photographic manufacturing enterprises in 1998. It has almost 5,500 Kodak Express stores in China and said it will add more while introducing consumer digital products.

EARNINGS

Micron Electronics, the third-largest direct seller of personal computers, said fiscal fourth-quarter sales soared 90 percent, to $13.7 million, on growth in chip sales and wider margins on personal computers.

LOCAL BUSINESS

PSINet of Herndon said it has acquired three Internet service providers: TotalNet of Quebec, TBA Internet of Brazil and Internet Network Technologies of Sacramento. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Gene Logic of Gaithersburg has struck a deal with UCB Research of Cambridge, Mass., to find new drugs for allergies and asthma. Gene Logic specializes in genetic techniques to discover inviting drug "targets"--biological pathways that influence disease. UCB Research is a subsidiary of a major pharmaceutical company, UCB Pharma, that makes Zyrtec, a blockbuster allergy drug. Financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.

LifeMinders.com of Herndon on Friday filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering in which it expects to raise $57.5 million. LifeMinders is a direct-mail marketing service that sends subscribers information on areas of interest and reminds them about events such as birthdays. Underwriters of the offering include Hambrecht & Quist, Thomas Weisel Partners, PaineWebber and Wit Capital Corp.