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The coalition of labor unions, environmental groups and public-interest organizations that disrupted the Seattle meeting of the World Trade Organization two weeks ago said it will now focus its political attention on congressional efforts to grant permanent most-favored-nation status to China. The group said it was preparing a grass-roots effort in 100 political districts to block the vote. China has reached agreement with the White House on admission to the WTO but has insisted on being granted permanent MFN status as a condition.

The federal fund that insures bank deposits up to $100,000 declined in the third quarter, the result of costly failures at three small banks. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s bank insurance fund lost $113 million in the first nine months of the year, bringing the fund's balance as of Sept. 30 to $29.5 billion. The decline is the first since the opening quarter of 1992, when the nation's banks were reeling from real estate losses.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System is considering targeting Advanced Micro Devices, J.C. Penney, First Union, Rite Aid and 11 others in the $155 billion pension fund's annual drive to push companies in its portfolio to boost lagging stock prices. The board of the nation's largest pension fund has yet to approve the final list; the preliminary list was released due to a clerical error.

Money managers around the world are holding less cash than they have in at least two years, a bearish sign for global stock markets, according to a Merrill Lynch survey of 243 investment firms. The average global fund manager has 4.7 percent of assets in cash, down from 11.2 percent as recently as September 1998, the study found. "With cash levels so low, fund managers don't have as much firepower, and that's not a good indicator for the stock markets," said Trevor Greetham, the Merrill investment strategist who compiled the report.


Adrian Lajous, chief executive of Mexico's state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, resigned after five years and will be replaced by Rogelio Montemayor, the former governor of the state of Coahuila. Lajous said he was stepping down to allow a new leader to complete the multibillion-dollar investment projects he began in 1995. Several of these, such as plans to expand the refinery system, are behind schedule.

The European Union fined Anheuser-Busch, Scottish & Newcastle, Deutsche Post and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines a total of $146,715 for misinforming EU antitrust officials about planned mergers and agreements.

Mazda said Mark Fields will replace James E. Miller as president of the Japanese automaker, effective immediately. Fields, 38, was formerly executive vice president at Mazda. Like outgoing president Miller, 53, Fields joined Mazda from Ford, which has a 33 percent stake in Mazda. Miller, who became president of Mazda in 1997, told a news conference in Hiroshima he was leaving for "personal reasons." Mazda is headquartered in Hiroshima.


General Electric chief executive John F. Welch said he expects per-share profit to rise at least 15 percent next year, driven by service agreements and the performance of GE Capital. Welch also said GE has no intention of selling NBC.

Oracle, the database software maker, said its fiscal second-quarter profit jumped 40 percent, to $384 million, as demand grew for business networks and it benefited from a cost-cutting plan.

Pier 1 Imports said fiscal third-quarter earnings fell 15 percent, to $16.2 million, as it cut prices to lure former customers back.