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US consumer prices rose mildly in March, despite sharply higher energy prices, the Labor Department reported. The consumer price index increased a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent after a 0.1 percent rise in February. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said retail sales rose modestly in March after the biggest jump in five years in February. Sales at retail stores were up 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted $239.6 billion, following upwardly revised jumps of 1.7 percent in February and 1.3 percent in January.

The world's largest maker of auto parts, Delphi Systems Corp., will become fully independent of General Motors May 28, the latter announced. GM said the move would allow Delphi to form relationships with other car manufacturers that have been reluctant to do business with a supplier owned by one of their competitors. GM, however, is expected to remain Delphi's largest customer.

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In a stock-and-options deal valued at $2 billion, Cisco Systems Inc. said it will acquire Lowell, Mass.-based GeoTel Communications Corp. Cisco is a leading maker of Internet-traffic hardware. GeoTel produces call-routing software.

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