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Microsoft's latest offer to settle its antitrust lawsuit has postponed for at least 10 days a verdict by US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, sources close to the case said. The Wall Street Journal reported that the 10-page offer includes allowing computer makers to modify the blueprints for all current and future versions of its Windows software so that competitors' technologies can be embedded. Microsoft also would promise to end price discrimination on the sales of software to all computer makers, the Journal said. The Justice Department was discussing Microsoft's proposal with states that are plaintiffs in the case.

In the wake of rising interest rates and soaring oil prices, consumer confidence weakened in March for the second consecutive month, the New York-based Conference Board reported. Its index dropped to 136.7 in March from 140.8 in February and a record 144.7 in January. The index is based on a survey of 5,000 US households.

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