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Americans' incomes climbed a stronger-than-expected 1.3 percent last month, the Commerce Department said. The rise in personal incomes - the sharpest since a matching 1.3 percent gain in April 1994 - sparked additional speculation about new increases in interest rates early next year.

A $42.2 billion friendly takeover offer for National Westminster Bank Plc. of London fell through when Royal Bank of Scotland decided not to meet its higher asking price. NatWest was insisting on $1.70 per share more than Royal Bank was willing to pay. Industry sources said a hostile bid now was likely to follow within a week. Meanwhile, NatWest also announced its "final" strategy for thwarting a hostile takeover effort by another suitor, the Bank of Scotland: a buyback of $1.6 billion in stock, an increased dividend to shareholders, and $840 million in cost savings through restructuring - including the sale of some assets and the layoffs of 10,000 employees.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society