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In "an explosion of e-commerce," consumers are likely to triple their online shopping for the year-end holidays over 1998's figures, forecasters said. Dataquest, a Los Angeles research firm, projected that buying over the Internet would reach $12.2 billion from Oct. 1 through December. Last year's volume was $4.5 billion. Dataquest also said online retailers had significantly increased hiring and had beefed up their infrastructure to eliminate the logistical breakdowns experienced by many consumers during the last holiday-shopping rush.

United Technologies Corp. (UTC) announced a new round of payroll cuts and plant closings. The Hartford, Conn.-based conglomerate, which has been restructuring, said it would eliminate 14,500 jobs - 10 percent of its workforce - by 2003. Most of the cutbacks are expected to come overseas. Among its divisions: Pratt & Whitney, which makes jet engines; Sikorsky helicopters; Carrier air conditioners; and Otis Elevator. Earlier, another UTC division, Hamilton Sunstrand, said it was cutting 1,500 jobs.

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Negotiations for an electric-utility merger that will be the US's largest were completed successfully, Unicom Corp. and PECO Energy Co. announced. The combined company, to be based in Chicago, will have a capitalization of $15.2 billion. But the partners said the merger would result in the loss of 1,125 jobs.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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