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pay and benefits of US workers rose at their fastest pace since the start of the decade in the second quarter, suggesting the tight labor market may have begun to kindle inflation. The Labor Department said its employment cost index, which measures what employers pay for workers' wages, salaries, and benefits, rose by 1.1 percent in the quarter that ended in June, after a 0.4 percent gain in the first quarter. Separately, the department said first-time jobless claims fell a steep 40,000 last week to a two-year low of 275,000.

Apple Computer and America Online agreed to create online-messaging products that link Macintosh computers to AOL Instant Messenger users. The two companies said the collaboration will allow Macintosh users to exchange messages in real-time with friends and colleagues, as well as 40 million AOL customers. So-called instant-messaging programs allow Internet users to send and receive text messages that pop up immediately on the computer screens. The new pact comes as AOL, the market leader in messaging programs, faces stepped-up competition from Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Prodigy.

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Compiled by Robert Kilborn,

Lance Carden and

Elisabetta Coletti

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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