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an april jump in US consumer prices sparked debate over the threat inflation poses to the nation's economy. Last month's 0.7 percent surge in the consumer price index reported by the Labor Department more than tripled the modest 0.2 percent rise in March. The report came as the Federal Reserve policymaking committee prepared for a meeting tomorrow to discuss its interest-rate strategy. (Related story, page 1.)

The entire US loan portfolio of the insolvent Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan will be sold to GE Capital Mortgage Corp. of Raleigh, N.C., it was announced in Tokyo. Terms of the sale - other than the $11 billion price - were not disclosed. Long-Term Credit Bank was nationalized last October, and the sale is believed to be part of a government effort to recoup as much of its losses as possible. GE Capital is a subsidiary of General Electric Co.

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On top of the $30 billion in aid it already committed to the troubled economies of Asia, Japan offered to guarantee $16 billion worth of sovereign debt in the region. That would allow struggling countries to borrow the equivalent amount to help keep their fragile recovery efforts on track. The Japanese initiative was announced at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Malaysia.

Compiled by Robert Kilborn

and Lance Carden

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