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The US trade deficit narrowed slightly in April to $18.94 billion, as exports rose for the first time in months to help offset record imports, the Commerce Department said. The deficit was lower than the $19.8 billion record deficit Wall Street analysts had expected, but still second only to the record $18.95 billion deficit set in March. The trade deficit with OPEC oil-exporting countries nearly tripled in April to $1.81 billion.

A six-year working arrangement between industrial giant Siemens AG of Germany and Japan's Fujitsu Ltd. was upgraded to a merger of their computer businesses. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding to begin joint operations Oct. 1 as Fujitsu Siemens Computers - developing, manufacturing, and marketing a range of information systems and products. The new entity, if OK'd by regulators, is expected to have a share of the European market second only to Compaq and to generate sales of $7.4 billion in its first year.

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