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In a move to bring additional stability to its battered currency, Brazil's Central Bank hiked interest rates by 12 percent. The rise came on the heels of a decision to allow the real to float on international markets and was timed for the resumption of trading on Wall Street after a three-day US holiday weekend. But it is considered likely to alarm Brazilians already coping with the effects of negative economic growth.

A $12.7 billion merger between British Aerospace and General Electric Co.'s (GEC) defense business was being called a possible forerunner to a still-larger deal with Germany's DaimlerChrysler Aerospace. The acquisition of GEC, if approved by regulators, would make the combined company the third-largest aerospace contractor behind Boeing and Lockheed Martin of the US. GEC is not related to the US electronics giant of the same name.

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High-speed Internet provider At Home Corp. said it's buying Excite Inc., one of the leading destinations on the World Wide Web, for about $6.7 billion in stock. The deal could eventually give telecommunications giant AT&T control of a highly sought-after entry point to the Internet. At Home is owned by Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), Cox Communications, and several other investors. TCI is in the process of merging with AT&T in a $39 billion deal expected to be completed by spring.

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