Delta Air Lines rescinded a plan to add 3 percent to fares because demand did not warrant the increase. The airline had said demand had prompted the fare increase. Earlier this week, several airlines increased fares by 3 percent because of rising fuel prices, but it was not known if they would roll back their prices.

Volkswagen will invest about $31 billion from 2000 through 2004 to modernize factories and broaden its vehicle lineup, including adding luxury models and a convertible version of the Beetle. Europe's largest carmaker also said it would buy the rest of the rental company Eurocar International, of which it now owns 50 percent, from French hotel and leisure group Accor.

Bank of Scotland sweetened its offer for National Westminster Bank to $44.4 billion. The total value of the bid works out to $26.60 a share, a 23 percent increase from what Bank of Scotland originally offered in September. Some analysts said the new bid was meant to discourage Royal Bank of Scotland, which has until Dec. 8 to make its own offer. NatWest's board quickly rejected the new bid as inadequate.

Heating oil could lead commodities higher in coming days as consumers accumulate supplies as a precaution against possible disruptions caused by the Y2K computer glitch. Analysts said homeowners were topping off oil tanks to ensure that there will be enough fuel to stay warm if computer malfunctions disrupt supplies in the new year. The contract for January crude oil deliveries on Wednesday traded as high as $27.15 a barrel, the highest price since January 1991, before closing at $26.87.

Two British media companies said they plan to merge in a $6.5 billion stock swap to create Britain's biggest commercial television company, as measured by number of viewers. The combination of Carlton Communications and United News & Media would result in a company with interests ranging from digital television broadcasting and national newspapers to a string of local British TV franchises and U.S. businesses, including Technicolor.

Union leaders will return to the bargaining table Monday after production workers at the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, rejected a tentative agreement. Workers are concerned that work will slow down at the plant because GM has said it won't replace 440 workers who retired this year. The plant has 5,300 production workers.

Asian nations, just two years removed from a devastating economic crisis, want to bolster ties with more powerful nations, band together for global influence and resume the economic growth of what used to be called the Asian Miracle. The upbeat sentiment comes as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations prepares to meet tomorrow. Officials of the group said they will push to have ASEAN intensify Asian participation in regional and multilateral bodies such as the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and and the World Bank.

The European Union was urged by leaders of African, Caribbean and Pacific nations to extend favorable trade pacts, saying they need at least eight years to develop free-trade agreements within their own regions. Thirty-three heads of state and government took part in a summit this week in the Dominican Republic, where the expiration of the trade agreement Feb. 29 was a top priority.