For the second straight month, orders to US factories for durable goods fell, the Commerce Department reported. Analysts had forecast that orders for products expected to last at least three years would rise by 1 percent in October. Instead, they declined by 1.3 percent, following a 1.9 percent slump in September. The decline was led by electronics and electrical equipment, which experienced their steepest drop in more than two years, the Commerce Department said. The back-to-back monthly declines were the first since February-March of 1998.
The target of history's largest hostile takeover bid announced the speedup of plans to split off its telecommunications division. The German conglomerate Mannesmann AG said it would sell majority interest in its engineering and automotive businesses next summer, six months earlier than under an original timetable. That would leave Mannesmann a pure telecommunications enterprise, a move aimed at persuading stockholders to reject the $128 billion takeover offer from Britain's Vodafone AirTouch Plc. The two companies are battling for dominance of Europe's lucrative mobile-phone market.
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