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Three of the nation's biggest wood-products companies announced sizable cost-cutting measures. International Paper said it would close three US mills employing 2,500 workers and cut production of certain papers and pulps. Georgia-Pacific announced it would suspend production indefinitely at eight facilities. And Mead, which recently announced the closure of plants in Georgia, Indiana, and Michigan - with a loss of more than 200 jobs - said it no longer would operate some papermaking machines around the clock. The companies are faced with low prices and slumping demand for lumber with the approach of winter, traditionally a weak season for construction.

Ingersoll-Rand Co., a leading maker of equipment for the construction and refrigeration-systems industry, will lay off 4,000 employees, or about 8 percent of its workforce, and close 51 facilities by the end of 2001, an announcement said. Some of the cuts are a result of duplicate operations after the company's recent $1.55 billion purchase of Hussman International, a maker of commercial refrigeration products in Bridgeton, Mo. Woodcliffe Hills, N.J.-based Ingersoll-Rand also has become more efficient in its manufacturing process and needs less plant space, a spokesman said.

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