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Production by US factories, utilities, and mines shot ahead last month at the fastest rate in more than 1-1/2 years, posting a 0.9 percent increase, the Federal Reserve reported. Gas and electric companies led the gain, boosting output by 2.8 percent.

A $1.2 billion deal between the second-largest banking group in Italy, UniCredito Italiano, and Boston-based Pioneer Group Inc. will create a global investment company with assets under management of more than $100 billion, the companies said. Under the deal, several of Pioneer's operations - its Russian financial-services enterprise, natural-resource businesses, and interests in venture capital and real estate - will be spun off into a company that will liquidate the assets within five years. UniCredito, based in Milan, will take over Pioneer's global investment management businesses, which have operations in the US, Germany, Ireland, Eastern Europe, and Asia.

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A two-way battle for the largest vacation-package company in Britain apparently has been won by Pruessag AG of Germany for $2.9 billion. It said its bid had been accepted by the directors of Thomson Travel, which controls one-quarter of the British holiday tour market. Only a week ago, rival German tour operator C&N Touristic upped its offer for Thomson to $2.43 billion. Pruessag said it would sell its majority stake in Thomas Cook Holdings, a Thomson competitor, to make the deal palatable to regulators.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society


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