UFJ Holdings and Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group can negotiate a merger that would create the world's biggest bank, a Japanese appeals court ruled. But rival Sumitomo Trust, which had sought to halt the talks, said it asked the Supreme Court to rule on the case. The Tokyo appeals court ruling effectively scrapped a lower-court decision blocking negotiations and clears the way for merger talks between UFJ and Mitsubishi Tokyo to proceed.

Judge Lets Agent's Charges Stand

A federal judge declined to throw out perjury charges against the Secret Service ink expert who testified for the government in Martha Stewart's trial. The judge also refused to move the trial from New York to Washington, where the expert lives. Larry F. Stewart, who is not related to Martha Stewart, is accused of lying repeatedly on the witness stand at the trial, mainly by exaggerating his role in ink-analysis testing of a stock worksheet that was used as evidence. Lawyers for Stewart said his involvement in the testing was not material to the jury's verdict, but the judge ruled that the issue was "obviously something that would be significant to a jury, to the jury's evaluation of the testimony, to the jury's evaluation of the credibility."

MORE NEWS

The federal budget deficit reached $395.8 billion with two months left in the budget year, 7.2 percent higher than during the first 10 months of fiscal 2003, the Treasury Department said. Government revenue increased 4 percent for the same period over last year. The Bush administration expects that the deficit for the full year will be $445 billion.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it will allow the public two more days to file comments on the voluntary flight-reduction agreements it is seeking from airlines operating at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The agency and carriers have been meeting for more than a week and have not agreed on flight cutbacks to reduce congestion. U.S. officials said they would impose a reduced schedule at the airport if the airlines did not offer their own plan. The Department of Transportation said there is no deadline for an agreement.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, claiming that United Airlines executives have lost employees' trust, filed a motion asking a judge to appoint a trustee to oversee the airline's operations in bankruptcy.

A lawsuit against Citigroup has been dismissed. The suit claimed the financial services company helped Enron, Dynegy and WorldCom disguise loans. A U.S. district judge said investors' allegations aren't sufficient for the case to proceed.

Cracker Barrel Old County Store was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after 10 workers at Illinois restaurants complained of sexual and racial discrimination. The suit claims women were subjected to sexual assaults and a black employee endured disparaging racial remarks. Cracker Barrel denies the charges.

Dan River announced plans to eliminate 375 jobs starting in October as it closes two plants. The jobs will be eliminated after Dan River closes its sheet finishing and sewing facilities in Danville. The remaining sewing duties will be shifted to plants in North Carolina.

Motorola said the Internal Revenue Service claims it owes $500 million in back taxes for the years 1996 through 2000. Motorola said it disagrees with the proposed adjustments and intends to dispute the matter.

The World Trade Organization upheld a ruling that supported steep anti-dumping tariffs imposed by the United States on imports of Canadian softwood lumber, but maintained that U.S. authorities miscalculated the amounts. A panel rejected Canada's claims that the United States had acted illegally in investigating whether Canadian lumber was being sold at below the cost of production.

Eighteen of Kellogg's vitamin-enriched products were banned by Danish health officials, who said the cereals and breakfast bars could be harmful if eaten regularly. Kellogg said it was puzzled by the rejection, as many of the products are sold in other European countries.

The Los Angeles City Council approved a law to limit superstores. The new ordinance requires retailers to submit an economic impact study before they can open the large stores in the city's economic revitalization areas. The affected stores sell groceries as well as general merchandise.

The New York Stock Exchange named Linda Dallas Rich senior vice president of government relations. Rich, 40, most recently was senior counsel for the House Financial Services Committee.

General Electric, the world's biggest private-label credit-card issuer, said it agreed to buy Moscow-based DeltaBank, an issuer of Visa credit cards. Terms were not disclosed.

A former Lipper Holdings executive accused of overstating the value of hedge funds pleaded guilty to securities fraud. Edward Strafaci, a former senior trader at the firm, admitted that he deceived investors by overvaluing two hedge funds, including one that prosecutors say was valued at $722 million but liquidated at $365 million. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 2.

INTERNATIONAL

De Beers, the Johannesburg diamond giant, said it will raise the price of rough diamonds by an average of 5 percent this month as jewelry demand remains "strong" for the rest of the year.

A Dutch record company launched a Web site to compete with Apple's iTunes digital music downloading service. Free Record Shop Holding offers 250,000 tracks from five major record labels on its Dutch- and French-language Web site. Other music download services, such as iTunes, do not have the rights to sell the selection being offered by the company in the Benelux countries.

RECALLS

Britax Child Safety is recalling 355,516 child seats because a harness can loosen and endanger the child, the government said. The company is recalling all Marathon, Husky, Wizard and Snug Seat Traveler Plus seats. Britax will provide consumers with a new adjuster strap. Registered owners should receive the strap by Sept. 30; consumers who did not register should call 800-683-2045.

General Mills is recalling some of its Crispy Glazed flavors of Pop Secret microwave popcorn after some customers reported burning themselves on hot glaze. The company is recalling 280,596 cases distributed nationally. Customers can return Crispy Glazed Caramel Corn and Crispy Glazed Kettle Corn to retailers for a refund. The recall does not affect other Pop Secret flavors.

LOCAL BUSINESS

Arlington Capital Partners, a Washington-based private equity firm, said it would buy eight radio stations in Montana, Texas and Colorado for a company it owns, Cherry Creek Radio. When the sale is completed later this year, Cherry Creek will operate 32 radio stations in 11 markets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

EARNINGS

Federated Department Stores said its year-over-year second-quarter profit fell 35 percent to $78 million, which included a one-time $59 million charge related to a $273 million buyback of the company's long-term debt. Sales rose 3 percent, to $3.55 billion, over the same period last year.

Interstate Bakeries, the maker of Wonder Bread and Hostess Twinkies, said it will delay filing an annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission because it needs to restate earnings for its second and third quarters.

Brink's lowered to $53 million its estimated maximum loss from fines due to an overseas unit's failure to pay customs duties and taxes on imports. The Richmond-based company also said it plans to take a $2.1 million charge in the second quarter, ended June 30, for the duties, taxes and interest, which will decrease its profit for the period to $18.6 million from $19.8 million.

News Corp. reported that its fourth-quarter earnings climbed 8 percent, to $399 million, over the same period last year. Revenue for Rupert Murdoch's media chain grew 20 percent, to $5.52 billion, over last year's fourth quarter.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.

Sonny Steward, left, Amanda Steward, right, and Alma Gonzales prepare DVDs to be mailed from Blockbuster Inc.'s distribution center in Dallas. Blockbuster yesterday launched an Internet-based DVD rental service to compete with such competitors as Netflix, which have cut into the video giant's store-based business.