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The us trade deficit surged in May to another record as foreign oil prices jumped to their highest level since late 1997. The Commerce Department said the deficit ballooned to $21.3 billion, a 14.8 percent increase from April's $18.6 billion deficit. Imports of goods and services climbed 2.2 percent to a record $98.9 billion; exports fell 0.8 percent to $77.6 billion.

The bitter deadlock over who will lead the World Trade Organization moved a step closer to resolution as its General Council agreed informally to allow the two candidates to split the job for the next six years. Meeting in Geneva, council members OK'd a plan that would award the director-general post to ex-New Zealand Prime Minister Michael Moore for three years beginning Sept. 1. He would be succeeded for the final three by Thailand's deputy prime minister, Supachai Panitchpakdi. Formal endorsement is expected by the end of the week. The months-old deadlock - neither candidate had enough votes to win the post outright and neither would withdraw - has delayed progress on a range of vital international-trade issues.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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