Burger King is recalling millions of plastic balls that hold wildly popular Pokemon toys given away in kids' meals after a 1-year-old girl suffocated when one covered her mouth and nose. The balls used to pack 57 different types of Pokemon toys measure from 2 3/4 inches to 3 inches in diameter and can be opened by pulling their two halves apart to reveal a toy inside. The company said in a statement that consumers should immediately take the balls away from children under the age of 3, discard them or return both halves of the ball to a Burger King restaurant for a free order of small French fries. On Dec. 11, a Sonora, Calif., girl had stopped breathing by the time she was found in her playpen with half a ball over her nose and mouth.

AT&T and Covad Communciations plan an appeal in federal court after the FCC rejected AT&T's challenge of the decision to allow Bell Atlantic to offer long-distance service in New York. The long-distance giant and Covad, a provider of DSL Internet service, say they will file a challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on the ground that Bell Atlantic failed to open its local network to competitors. The FCC maintains that Bell Atlantic complied with the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Drkoop.com, the health-care Web site co-founded by former surgeon general C. Everett Koop, said Warner-Lambert will sponsor its Diabetes Center. Terms of the one-year agreement were not disclosed. The diabetes drug Rezulin and other Warner-Lambert products will be featured on the site, which offers information on diabetes, research and support groups.

Ford may build a new type of minivan for Mercury and Volvo in its Chicago assembly plant in about three years, people familiar with the plan said. The automaker now builds Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable sedans at the plant, as well as in Atlanta. Ford, which bought Volvo's car operations in January, would consolidate Taurus production in Atlanta, and the Chicago plant would build Mercury and Volvo "tall wagons," a cross between minivans and station wagons, the people said.

Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said he feels "very good" about the U.S. economy but warned against "our becoming overconfident, too proud of ourselves, complacent, imprudent in our lending and borrowing decisions." In February, the economy will complete 107 months of expansion, the longest expansion in U.S. history.

T-bill rates were mixed. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday fell to 5.3 percent, from 5.4 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills fell to 5.505 percent from 5.6 percent. The actual return to investors is 5.463 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,866.00, and 5.757 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,721.70. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield on one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, rose to 5.97 percent last week from 5.85 percent the previous week.

Dexter, a maker of products for the aerospace, electronics, food-packaging and medical markets, said it has rejected a $932 million buyout offer from International Specialty Products, a chemical conglomerate. The offer was made Dec. 14 during a dispute over Dexter's majority stake in Life Technologies of Rockville. Investor Samuel J. Heyman, who controls 76 percent of ISP, has urged Dexter to drop its stake in Life Technologies, arguing that the companies are better off split apart. Life Technologies makes supplies for biological research and genetic engineering.

Dow Jones said it plans to sell Dow Jones Financial Publishing to Wicks Business Information. Dow Jones Financial publishes Investment Advisor, Asset Management and Property magazines and the newsletter Realty Stock Review. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The sale is intended to help Dow Jones divest non-core assets.

Weyerhaeuser said its planned $720 million acquisition of TJ International has received federal antitrust approval. TJ International owns 51 percent of lumber-products company Trus Joist MacMillan. A Weyerhaeuser unit owns the remaining 49 percent.


Sony announced a 2-for-1 stock split effective May 19. Sony's stock price has tripled in the past 12 months, driven by optimism that a far-reaching reorganization plan and the release in March of the successor to the company's PlayStation game console will bring strong earnings growth. Stock splits redistribute a company's equity over a larger number of shares, making them more affordable. Investors often perceive the splits as positive indicators of a company's prospects.

German producer prices rose at a quickening pace in November, mostly as a result of the continuing increase in petroleum prices, government data showed. The producer price index rose 0.7 percent from a year earlier. The increase was substantially faster than the preceding two months: In October, the index rose 0.2 percent on a 12-month basis, and in September it fell 0.5 percent year-on-year.

Kvaerner ASA, Europe's largest shipbuilder, said it will sell part of its natural-gas power plant business to General Electric of the United States for $69 million, confirming an initial agreement announced in September. The sale is part of Oslo-based Kvaerner's plan to focus on engineering and construction, while selling its shipbuilding unit and its unprofitable businesses.


Lowrance Electronics, a maker of global positioning satellites, canceled a planned buyout by Orbital Sciences because Orbital's bankers missed the Dec. 23 deadline to approve the $27.5 million deal. Dulles-based Orbital, the biggest maker of small satellites, agreed to buy Lowrance in March in an all-stock offer now valued at $7.30 a share, but the expected close has been pushed back more than once and Orbital's share price has fallen about 25 percent. Orbital said it will continue trying to buy Tulsa-based Lowrance but couldn't say when its bankers would agree to the purchase.