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Airtouch communications, already in merger talks with Bell Atlantic, said it had received a rival offer from Britain's Vodafone Group. The latter deal reportedly would be worth more than $45 billion, although the parties would not confirm that figure. Vodafone is the largest mobile-phone service provider in Britain and has been expanding its cellular coverage in Europe. San Francisco-based AirTouch is the largest US independent wireless company.

President Clinton is unlikely to endorse formal steel-import restrictions, despite industry demands that he halt dumping of foreign steel into the American market, US officials said. The administration missed a deadline to present Congress with a detailed plan on the issue, and lawmakers from steel-producing states were quick to express their displeasure.

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Share prices in Honda, BMW, Volvo, and Fiat stock rose sharply following the latest in a series of recurring reports of pending merger talks with Ford Motor Co. Staff writer Eric Evarts, attending the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, said Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volvo officials dismissed the report.

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