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The Justice Department moved to speed up the Microsoft antitrust case, asking an appeals court to immediately send it back to a lower court to decide whether the softwaremaker should be broken up. Usually, the appeals court would have waited until at least mid-August. The department also said it does not intend to appeal a ruling to the Supreme Court. The Justice Department's move comes two weeks after a federal appeals court said Microsoft operated as an illegal monopoly. But the court reversed the trial judge's order breaking up the firm and sent the case to a different lower-court judge. Microsoft has until July 23 to file a response.

Maytag Corp.'s plan to purchase rival Amana Appliances was approved by the Federal Trade Commission, bypassing the normally prescribed waiting period. The $325 million deal is expected to be completed in the third quarter. It will generate an expected $900 million in additional sales for the Iowa-based Maytag Corp. Maytag is acquiring Amana's major appliance and commercial microwave businesses, but not its heating and air-conditioning operations.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor