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Ford said its third-quarter earnings rose 11 percent, $1.11 billion, with strong sales of its sport-utility vehicles and pickups. Sales totaled $38 billion, up 16 percent from a year earlier, thanks in part to the acquisition of Swedish carmaker Volvo. The earnings translated to 90 cents a share, which beat analysts' expectations by 5 cents.

Rite Aid said chairman and chief executive Martin Grass had resigned. The company's chief operating officer and president, Timothy Noonan, will take over as interim CEO. The drugstore chain also said it would restate its financial results for fiscal 1997, 1998 and 1999 by a total of about $500 million before taxes. Rite Aid's stock has fallen 81 percent this year.

Comsat, the satellite service company, may have violated export controls by providing technical assistance to an Asian satellite operator without government approval, according to a new congressional report. The matter has been referred to the U.S. Customs Service for criminal investigation, said the General Accounting Office, the congressional watchdog agency. Bethesda-based Comsat played down the seriousness of the charges. "These are issues of narrow technical compliance and have no bearing on national security," said Jay Ziegler, a Comsat spokesman.

Delta Air Lines agreed to buy the 78 percent of Comair Holdings it does not already own for $1.91 billion, giving the third-largest U.S. airline the biggest regional carrier and expanding its network. Cincinnati-based Comair is a Delta Connection carrier that flies customers primarily from cities in the Midwest and Florida to Delta's hubs in Cincinnati and Orlando.

Dell Computer said a 25 percent increase in prices for chip components it uses in personal computers was likely to hurt results for its third-quarter ending later this month. Dell made the announcement after the market closed. Its stock, which closed at $41.31 1/4, fell as low as $37.56 1/4 in after-hours trading.

Bell Atlantic confirmed it is holding discussions to purchase cellular telephone properties from several companies in northern Mexico in an effort to broaden its presence south of the border.

Microsoft said it will join with Telefonos de Mexico, the biggest Mexican phone company, to develop a Spanish-language Internet portal for the Americas. Microsoft is pushing into the Latin American and Spanish-speaking Internet market as rivals including America Online, Yahoo and AT&T gear up to do the same.

T-bill rates rose. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday rose to 4.99 percent, from 4.78 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills rose to 5 percent from 4.93 percent. The actual return to investors is 5.136 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,873.90, and 5.216 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,747.20. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, rose to 5.42 percent last week from 5.34 percent the previous week.

EARNINGS

American Home Products said third-quarter profit rose 2 percent, to $633.46 million, because of rising sales of its estrogen-replacement and arthritis drugs. The results do not reflect $3.29 billion in charges related to the firm's proposed settlement of fen-phen diet-drug litigation and some other issues.

Bank of America said third-quarter earnings more than doubled on higher fees and lower expenses arising from last year's merger between NationsBank and BankAmerica. Net income rose to $2.15 billion from a profit before charges of $893 million a year ago. The year-earlier earnings excluded a $725 million pretax merger charge.

Bank of New York reported its third-quarter profit from operations fell 22 percent, to $235 million, as it took a higher provision for loan losses and paid more taxes.

Citigroup reported a 229 percent jump in third-quarter profit, to $2.4 billion, as business boomed in its global and investment-banking units, which had suffered during last year's market turmoil. The per-share earnings of 70 cents surpassed Wall Street's forecast by 2 cents a share. Salomon Smith Barney, the company's investment bank, reported net income of $432 million, a turnaround from a $396 million loss a year earlier.

Immunex, one of the world's biggest biotech companies, reported third-quarter net income of $21 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $4.9 million. Immunex, majority-owned by drugmaker American Home Products, said its Enbrel had $102 million in sales in the quarter as the company spent heavily to market the rheumatoid arthritis treatment.

Xerox said its third-quarter profit fell 11 percent, to $339 million, amid lower productivity from its reorganized sales force and pricing pressures from competitors.

LOCAL BUSINESS

America Online said it would expand its Digital City sites, which offer localized news and information, from 60 cities to more than 200 in the spring of 2000.

Legg Mason of Baltimore agreed to buy British fund group Johnson Fry Holdings for about $70 million in cash, the first international acquisition by the 100-year-old brokerage and money manager.

CAPTION: Treasury Bills (This graphic was not available)