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Striking Canadian Auto Workers members ended their occupation of a General Motors Corp. parts plant in Oshawa, Ont., after the union president hinted at progress toward a settlement of the 2-week-old walkout.

"This was a meeting that may let us break the logjam," Buzz Hargrove said Wednesday after a two-hour meeting that included, for the first time during the strike, GM Chairman Jack Smith Jr.

"Mr. Smith has agreed that they will back off from their position that up until today has been that they will not give up any inch of ground on their unilateral right to outsource jobs," Hargrove said. "He's agreed that at the end of these discussions, there will be restrictions on outsourcing. That's an important victory for us as a union."

A GM Canada spokesman said Hargrove's statement did not mean the company had softened its position on cutting costs and jobs.

The strike by more than 26,000 CAW members has shut down General Motors of Canada Ltd. and has idled 11,287 workers in the United States and Mexico at plants that rely on Canadian parts or make parts for use in Canada.

GM idled its Detroit-Hamtramck Cadillac assembly plant Wednesday after laying off 1,100 more workers. GM initially laid off 1,350 hourly workers at the plant Monday.

Canadian bank rates at 40-year low

TORONTO (Reuters) -- The Bank of Canada Wednesday lowered its key bank rate by a quarter point to 3.75 percent, bringing interest rates in Canada to their lowest level in almost 40 years.

Despite the cut -- the ninth by the central bank in 1996 -- analysts said the Bank of Canada could slash rates further this year if there were more signs of economic weakness.

The latest cut quickly prompted Canada's six big commercial banks to lower their prime lending rates to 5.25 percent from 5.50 percent, the lowest level since early 1959.

Rochester firm wins top award

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Rochester area firm is among four companies that are winners of the 1996 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards recognizing achievement in quality management, the White House said Wednesday.

They are Trident Precision Manufacturing Inc. of Webster, N.Y.; Dana Commercial Credit Corp. of Toledo, Ohio; ADAC Laboratories of Milpitas, Calif., and Custom Research Inc. of Minneapolis.

J&J settles Tylenol complaint

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- The McNeil Consumer Products Division of Johnson & Johnson, maker of Tylenol, agreed Wednesday to pay nearly $2 million to 19 states to settle allegations the company and the Arthritis Foundation deceptively advertised a simple pain reliever as a "new" arthritis fighter.

The now-discontinued medication was an over-the-counter drug called Arthritis Foundation Pain Reliever. It contained standard and widely available pain relievers, including acetaminophen (the main ingredient in Tylenol), ibuprofen (used in Advil and Motrin) and aspirin.

McNeil and the foundation denied any wrongdoing but agreed to stop making the disputed claims. The pharmaceutical company stopped shipping the pain reliever on Sept. 1. The company said the product was dropped because it failed to meet sales goals, not because of the advertising dispute.

Vermont Attorney General Jeffrey Amestoy said the advertisements falsely implied that the "drugs were specially formulated with help from the foundation and were therefore more effective than comparable drugs."

In other business news

Prodigy Inc. said that on Monday it will launch its Internet-based version of the Prodigy on-line service, called Prodigy Internet, with two pricing models, including a flat-rate plan of $19.95 a month for unlimited service, and its basic plan which costs $9.95 a month for 10 hours usage of both regular Prodigy and Internet content, with additional hours at $2.50 each.

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Chairman Vincent Casella, resigned after an internal probe showed he was owner of 152,000 shares of Ashton Technology Group Inc., which he had hired to implement an electronic trading system at the exchange.

Air France said it was linking with Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines in a trans-Atlantic alliance crucial to its ability to keep up with its major European rivals.

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