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Levi Strauss announced closure of 11 of its remaining 22 plants in North America and the layoffs of about 5,900 employees, or 30 percent of its US/Canadian work force. The San Francisco-based clothing maker said it will shift production to plants overseas and spend more resources on product design and marketing. Sales fell 13 percent last year to $6 billion. Following a disappointing performance in 1997, the company laid off 7,400 workers and closed at least 10 plants.

Dominion Resources Inc. announced it will buy Consolidated Natural Gas Co. of Pittsburgh for $6.3 billion in stock, creating the US's fourth-largest electric and natural-gas utility. The deal would give the Richmond, Va.,-based company nearly 2 million Consolidated customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia - and create a combined firm serving nearly 4 million retail customers in five Eastern states, including North Carolina.

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United Technologies said it would acquire Sundstrand Corp. for about $4.3 billion. Both companies are suppliers of aerospace components; UT is also a leading maker of jet engines. UT said it will combine Sundstrand with its Windsor Locks, Conn.,-based Hamilton Standard division.

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