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Switzerland's alusuisse lonza and France's Pechiney said they were in merger talks with Alcan of Canada to form the world's largest aluminium company in terms of sales. Total 1988 revenue for the trio was $24.8 billion, significantly more than Alcoa's $15.5 billion, according to Reuters data. US-based Alcoa would still be larger in terms of market capitalization. Analysts said talks to create bigger aluminium firms are a sign of mounting pressure on metal companies to join forces in the face of low prices that have cut into profits.

A complaint by independent US oil producers - accusing

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four countries of violating the nation's trade statutes and harming domestic producers - was rejected by the US Commerce Department. It said a coalition of independent companies had "insufficient industry support" to challenge the foreign imports under US antidumping laws. The petition was filed by small producers operating in Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Large oil companies opposed the petition, which challenged recent imports from Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Iraq.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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