Domestic air travelers will be assessed a surcharge of $20 on round-trip flights and $10 on one-way flights by five leading U.S. airlines to cover increased fuel costs. Continental Airlines announced Tuesday that it would begin the fee Feb. 1, and United and American matched the increase Wednesday. Yesterday, Delta and Northwest followed suit.

Sprint is nearing an agreement to sell its stake in the unprofitable Global One telecommunications joint venture to its partners France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, people familiar with Sprint's plans said. The tentative cash sale values the venture, which provides data and voice transmission service to more than 35,000 business customers, closer to $5 billion than the $10 billion analysts have estimated, a person said.

The Laborers union said it has reached an agreement with the Justice Department to loosen federal oversight, eliminating the threat of court-appointed officers taking over the union and cleaning house. Under the agreement, effective Feb. 1, the union will have to keep internal anti-corruption programs intact through its 2001 elections and the government has the right to challenge any changes in court. Assistant Attorney General James Robinson said that under an internal reform program, 220 people had been removed from union posts, including 127 who were members or associates of organized crime.

Assets in 401(k) retirement plans grew an average of 18 percent per year during the 1990s and stood at an estimated $1.41 trillion at the end of 1998, according to a report by the Investment Company Institute and the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

EARNINGS

Atlantic Richfield posted a fourth-quarter profit from operations of $541 million, almost an eightfold increase from a year earlier. It attributed the gain to higher oil prices.

Barnes & Noble said it will report higher-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter earnings because of strong sales of books, music and gift-certificate cards at its superstores. Profit from operations is expected to be $1.26 a share, including a loss of 12 cents a share from Barnes & Noble's stake in Internet bookseller Barnesandnoble.com. Analysts' average forecast is $1.21 a share, according to First Call/Thomson Financial.

Boise Cascade said fourth-quarter profit from operations rose sixfold, to $45.9 million, because of a 12 percent average increase in the company's paper prices.

Duke Energy, the No. 2 U.S. utility company, said fourth-quarter profit from operations rose 21 percent, to $301 million, because of expansion in its electricity, fuel sales and real estate businesses. Counting a charge of $490 million, Duke lost $189 in the recent quarter.

Excite At Home, which provides high-speed Internet access via cable-TV lines, reported a loss of $723 million in the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of $64.9 million a year ago. Excluding expenses for amortization, the company said it had its first-ever profit of $514,000 million.

Gateway, the made-to-order personal computer company, said fourth-quarter earnings slipped 2 percent, to $126 million, due to previously reported supply problems and customers' Y2K fears. But earnings for the year climbed 24 percent, to $428 million.

General Electric said its fourth-quarter profit rose 16 percent, to $3.09 billion, driven by sales of service contracts and by advertising at the NBC television network.

General Motors said fourth-quarter profit fell 32 percent, to $1.1 billion, due to a slowdown in truck production and losses at its Hughes electronics unit. The Hughes unit reported a $226 million loss for the quarter, compared with a $119 million profit a year earlier. GM said the loss stemmed from the unit's expansion of its DirecTV satellite service.

Inktomi, a maker of software for searching for data online and speeding up Web browsing, said its fiscal first-quarter loss narrowed to $6.42 million from $8.48 million as revenue tripled.

Monsanto said it had profit of about $1 a share in 1999, beating analyst estimates, as its Celebrex arthritis drug had sales of $1.5 billion in its first year. The St. Louis maker of drugs and bioengineered seeds said its profit from operations would also be bolstered by strong sales of its Roundup herbicide and corn and soybean seeds in the fourth quarter.

Sears, Roebuck reported that its fourth-quarter earnings increased 29 percent, to $740 million, because it discounted fewer items this holiday and set aside less cash for bad credit-card accounts.

Sun Microsystems said fiscal second-quarter earnings rose 35 percent, to $353.4 million, lifted by record sales of its server computers to companies doing business on the Internet.

Sunoco said fourth-quarter profit from operations fell 69 percent, to $16 million, as higher crude-oil prices raised the cost of making gasoline and other fuels. Sunoco had $31 million in gains for tax and inventory adjustments and took a $9 million charge for litigation, bringing net income to $38 million.

Union Pacific said fourth-quarter profit more than doubled, to $242 million, as the rail carrier continued to rebound from a logjam that snarled its system in 1997 and 1998.

LOCAL BUSINESS

America Online Latin America said it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of up to $575 million of its Class A common stock. AOL launched its first service in Latin America last fall with the debut of AOL Brazil. Officials have said they hope to introduce similar services in Mexico and Argentina sometime this year.