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TOYOTA, HONDA REPORTEDLY PLANNING MORE U.S. PLANTS

Two Japanese automakers plan to build additional factories in North America, aggressive moves likely to increase pressure on U.S. car manufacturers, The Wall Street Journal reported today.

Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. each plan to build an assembly plant in the United States or Canada, the newspaper said. Potential sites were not disclosed.

Toyota also intends to double its capacity to 200,000 vehicles a year at a truck factory still under construction in Indiana. If the plans are realized, the automaker would be able to produce 1.5 million cars and small trucks per year early in the next decade.

Last year, Toyota's capacity was about to 785,000 vehicles annually.

Honda, meanwhile, plans to increase production by about 100,000 vehicles a year, the Journal reported, citing anonymous sources. The capacity in North America is now about 790,000.

The added production by both companies would make their combined North American annual output about 2.5 million vehicles. By comparison, Chrysler Corp.'s annual production last year was 2.77 million.

Teamsters' overseer quits

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The court-appointed officer probing the campaign of Teamsters President Ron Carey removed herself from the case Tuesday as Carey denied any part in an illegal fund-raising scheme that "ripped off" his union.

Barbara Zack Quindel, who was weighing whether to disqualify Carey from a rerun election against James P. Hoffa, resigned effective Sept. 30 after new evidence implicated a political party to which she belongs and an associate of one of her investigators.

Ms. Quindel's decision to quit stemmed from her interview last Friday with political consultant Martin Davis, who pleaded guilty a day earlier to conspiracy in a fund-raising scheme that funneled Teamsters treasury money into Carey's coffers.

"The latest revelations include facts that suggest the schemes of the Carey campaign may have involved a professional associate of one of the Election Office's investigative staff and an organization to which I belong, the New Party," Ms. Quindel wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge David Edelstein. "Whether or not these allegations are true, the fact that they have been asserted at this point in the investigation places me in an untenable position with respect to the investigation and issuance of any supplemental decision on the matter of disqualification."

T-note yield hits 10-month low

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Yields on two-year Treasury notes fell in Tuesday's auction.

The high yield was 5.794 percent, down from 5.998 percent at the last auction on Aug. 26. The notes will carry a coupon interest rate of 5 3/4 percent with each $10,000 in face value selling for $9,991.80.

Continental to raise employees' pay

HOUSTON (AP) -- Continental Airlines announced Tuesday a $500 million plan to bring pay for all 40,000 employees up to industry standards within the next three years.

The announcement of the plan, which would include the carrier's 5,100 pilots, comes just days before a union-set Oct. 1 deadline for a pilots' contract.

The wage rates will be based on an average of the top 10 carriers, excluding Continental, ranked by the U.S. Department of Transportation, said Continental spokesman Ned Walker.

Union officials declined to comment.

In other business news

Bethlehem Steel Corp. completed the sale of its BethForge and Centec Roll units to Park Corp. after the steelworkers union approved a labor agreement with the new owner. Terms of the sale and labor contract weren't disclosed.

ValuJet, the low-cost carrier crippled by a deadly crash in Florida's Everglades, will begin flying under the name AirTran today. As part of a new strategy, the airline will offer a business class service, assigned seating and reservations available on travel agents' computer systems.

Consumers' liability for lost or stolen debit cards would be capped at $50 under a measure proposed Tuesday by the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. "The current system offers no protection to consumers, because debit cards are like credit cards, without the safeguards," said Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y. "Stolen or lost debit cards can wreak havoc on a person's bank account, because there's no liability limit."

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