United and Continental airlines matched a 3 percent fare increase initiated by American Airlines. American, the second-largest airline, raised fares Monday night, and Delta matched on Tuesday. American said it lifted fares to counteract fuel prices, which rose 15 percent in the third quarter. Oil prices are just under $27 a barrel, the highest level since the Persian Gulf War and up from $11 at the start of the year. Fuel is the airlines' second-largest expense, after labor.

Stock mutual funds are on pace to post their best sales month on record as investors pour money into technology and international funds. Investors have put about $25 billion into stock funds so far this month, already topping October's $23.3 billion, according to Trimtabs.com Investment Research. If sales continue at that pace, they would top $34 billion. The current record is $28.5 billion, set in January 1997.

Florida's insurance commissioner said Prudential Insurance Company of America, already making restitution in a multibillion-dollar settlement for past sales abuses, was again the target of allegations that it cheated customers. Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson said the new allegations were similar to those now under investigation in Minnesota, where current and former Prudential workers alleged that company managers trained and encouraged them to shortchange customers in settling claims of deceptive sales practices. Prudential, which in 1997 agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit on behalf of some 8 million policyholders alleging the company deceived them, said it was confident the new allegations would prove false.

NBC and Egreetings Network signed a cross-marketing agreement to promote the TV network's programs and the Web site's free digital greetings. As part of the partnership, NBC will make an undisclosed investment in Egreetings, which operates an online digital greeting and gift site. Egreetings will create free digital postcards and animations featuring NBC shows.

GPU, the owner of utilities with 2 million customers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, completed its $1.6 billion sale of 21 power plants to Sithe Energies, a New York-based power-plant operator that is majority-owned by French utility Vivendi. Morristown, N.J.-based GPU agreed in November to sell the plants to focus on delivering power over its transmission and distribution lines.

Excite At Home, which provides high-speed Internet access through cable television lines, said it will offer its service through Compaq Computer's Web site. Customers can determine availability and schedule installation of Excite At Home's service through Compaq's Internet services Web site and purchase At Home-ready Presario computers.


Newbridge Networks, a troubled maker of networking equipment, laid off 300 employees at its Ottawa headquarters and announced that it had eliminated 200 jobs in Europe on Tuesday and will cut another 200 in the United States on Monday. The company, which last week opened the door to takeover bids, is facing a sales slowdown in the United States for its flagship equipment, which sends multimedia data across networks at high speed.


Potomac Electric Power said the D.C. government, as a consumer of electricity, has joined other major Pepco customers in a settlement that would allow the utility company to sell its power plants. The settlement must still be approved by D.C. regulators, and a similar settlement in Maryland must be approved by regulators there before the plants can be auctioned.