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Grupo Mexico topped phelps Dodge Corp.'s hostile bid for US copper producer Asarco Inc. The Mexican mining and railways company, one of the world's Top-10 copper miners, said it was offering $26 a share cash for New York-based Asarco. The bid positioned Grupo Mexico as a potential white knight for Asarco after a hostile cash-and- stock bid from Phelps Dodge worth about $983 million, or $24.71 a share at Friday's closing stock prices.

Rising US mortgage rates dampened demand and pushed down sales of existing homes in August, the National Association of Realtors reported. It said 1999 still looked like another record sales year, but sales of existing single-family homes declined 2.8 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.25 million units. That is about 9.2 percent higher than the sales level in August 1998.

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MCI WorldCom and Sprint declined comment after a report in The Wall Street Journal that they had discussed a merger. Earlier this year, MCI WorldCom made an overture to acquire AirTouch Communications, but was outmaneuvered by Vodafone PLC of Britain. MCI WorldCom then negotiated with Nextel Communications, but those talks fell apart in May in a dispute over price.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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