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Construction of new homes and apartments in the US plummeted 10.1 percent in April, the biggest monthly decline in more than five years, the Commerce Department reported. April marked the third straight month of declines in housing starts. According to updated estimates, construction fell by a tiny 0.06 percent in March, after falling 3.7 percent in February.

Whether the financially troubled flag carrier of the Philippines can be saved from extinction depends on finding $200 million in new capital in the next 2-1/2 weeks and a pledge by workers not to strike for 10 years, its majority shareholder said. Lucio Tan warned the 8,000 employees of Philippine Airlines that creditors would seize its assets after June 4 without the new capital. But without the no-strike guarantee prospective investors will remain on the sidelines, he wrote. The carrier is $2.2 billion in debt.

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CORRECTION: An item in this space on May 17 incorrectly located the General Electric subsidiary that bought the entire US loan portfolio of Japan's Long-Term Credit Bank. GE Capital is based in Stamford, Conn.

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