IMF Says Europe May Need Rate Cut

The European Central Bank should be prepared to cut interest rates if the euro appreciates sharply or inflation weakens, the International Monetary Fund said.

The need for the bank to cut rates is "materializing," though it's "not yet evident," the IMF said in a report. The bank's benchmark rate has been 2 percent since June 2003.


Diageo Plans to Buy Bushmills

Diageo said it agreed to buy Irish-whiskey brand Bushmills from French group Pernod Ricard for $363 million. Diageo, whose brands include Smirnoff vodka and Guinness stout, said Pernod Ricard, which has offered $13.42 billion for Allied Domecq, a British competitor, has offered Diageo an option to buy Allied Domecq's Montana wine business for about $580 million if the takeover goes through.

U.S.-based Constellation Brands has a June 29 deadline for making an offer for Allied Domecq. It led a consortium lodging an "indicative proposal" with Allied last month about a possible bid, raising the chances of a bidding war.


Autoworkers Strike Over Wages

Autoworkers went on strike at several Ford and DaimlerChrysler plants. The union, Smata, seeks a base monthly salary of $692, which the companies said would increase labor costs 40 to 70 percent. Smata Secretary General Jose Rodriguez said the union could take over plants or cut off major highways if negotiations fail.


Kerr-McGee Excluded From Oil Fund

The Norwegian government said it excluded Kerr-McGee from its national oil fund because of the U.S. oil and gas producer's exploration off the disputed Western Sahara region. The Finance Ministry said the exploration could enable Morocco to exploit petroleum resources in the area and undermine United Nations peace efforts there. A Kerr-McGee spokesman said the United Nations confirmed the legality of its reconnaissance permit with Morocco's national oil company in 2002.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.