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Bell Atlantic, the nation's largest local telephone company, reached agreement to acquire the U.S. mobile phone network of Vodafone AirTouch PLC in a deal that will create a wireless communications company that will be able to serve 90 percent of the U.S. population.

In exchange for Vodafone's $15 billion wireless network, Bell Atlantic will give Vodafone a 45 percent stake in the new company, under the deal announced today. Bell Atlantic will manage the New York-based venture with assets of $28 billion, and control a majority of seats on the new board.

The deal unites Bell Atlantic's East Coast network with Vodafone's West Coast network, so their customers will be able to use their wireless phones almost anywhere in the country without having to pay extra "roaming" charges for out-of-area calls. Bell Atlantic, which is in the process of acquiring GTE Corp., would become a more potent competitor against rivals like AT&T Corp. and Sprint Corp.

Trade deficit continues to climb
WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's trade deficit ballooned to another monthly record high of $25.2 billion in July as a flood of foreign cars, machinery and consumer goods pushed imports to an all-time high. The U.S. deficit with Japan, China and Western Europe all set records.

The Commerce Department reported today that the trade deficit grew by 2.4 percent in July, surpassing the June imbalance of $24.6 billion.

America's trade imbalance has climbed to new highs for seven straight months, pushing the gap between imports and exports to an annual rate of $247 billion, far above last year's record deficit of $164.3 billion.

CAW reports progress in auto talks
TORONTO (AP) -- The Canadian Auto Workers union reported progress today as a midnight contract deadline neared with Ford Canada.

"We'll either have a settlement here tonight or we'll have a shutdown," union leader Buzz Hargrove said. Today's breakthrough involved a pension agreement, a key union demand.

Quaker Oats may cut 1,200 jobs
CHICAGO (AP) -- Quaker Oats Co. disclosed plans Monday to streamline U.S. and Canadian operations as part of a three-year project the company said could result in the loss of 1,200 jobs.

Those ultimately laid off may want to blame the runaway success of Gatorade, the nation's leading sports drink with sales of $1.3 billion a year.

The company, which also makes Quaker cereals and Rice-A-Roni, said much of the savings from the move will be plowed into an expansion of beverage manufacturing and capital improvements associated with Gatorade.

Yields mixed on Treasury bills
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Treasury Department sold $6.5 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 4.660 percent, unchanged from the same rate last week.

An additional $7.5 billion was sold in six-month bills at a rate of 4.890 percent, down from 4.925 percent.

The new discount rates understate the actual return to investors -- 4.794 percent for three-month bills with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,882.20, and 5.097 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,752.80.

Separately, the Federal Reserve said Monday that the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, the most popular index for making changes in adjustable rate mortgages, fell to 5.26 percent last week from 5.28 percent the previous week.

In other business news
Americans did a better job of paying their bills in a timely manner and the delinquency rate on consumer loans and credit cards dipped in the second quarter of the year. The seasonally adjusted percentage of credit card accounts 30 or more days past due fell to 3.33 percent in the April-June quarter, from 3.58 percent in the first three months of the year, the American Bankers Association said today.

U.S. regulators are concerned about plans by a Swiss bank to allow people everywhere to open accounts over the Internet with starting deposits as low as $5,000. MFC Merchant Bank, based in Geneva, Switzerland, will offer the online accounts starting Oct. 15.

Continental Airlines said Monday it has named a woman to lead its flight operations, the first such appointment in the nation by a major airline. Capt. Deborah McCoy will supervise more than 5,200 pilots and 8,700 flight attendants as Continental's senior vice president of flight operations, a newly created position.

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