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NEW BANKING BILL CLEARS KEY HOUSE FINANCE PANEL

With the threat of a presidential veto hanging over it, a House panel on Friday approved a reworked measure to overhaul the nation's financial laws. Two competing versions of the legislation are now before the House.

By a 23-2 vote, the House Commerce subcommittee on finance adopted the new bill, which would allow banks, securities firms and insurance companies to get into each other's businesses. The vote sent the measure to the full Commerce Committee.

A competing bill, narrowly approved in June by the House Banking Committee, would let banks merge not only with brokerages, insurers and other financial firms but also with commercial companies. That bill drew the objections of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt Jr., and others.

The finance subcommittee, whose areas of responsibility include the securities industry, has a different interest-group constituency from the Banking Committee's.

Now House lawmakers may have to choose between the two versions unless Republican leaders step in to decide the issue. The Senate has not acted on similar legislation this year.

Silicon Graphics plans big changes
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Bloomberg) -- Silicon Graphics Inc. shares rose 9 percent Friday amid indications the struggling company will announce major changes Monday.

Silicon Graphics, a maker of computer-graphics systems, will disclose "near-term" plans when it releases fiscal first-quarter earnings after the market close Monday, said spokesman Kevin Burr. He declined to comment further.

An article in Friday's San Francisco Chronicle said the company may layoff 2.8 percent of its workers or seek a buyer. Analysts said a major restructuring may be a foregone conclusion.

Silicon Graphic shares rose 1 7/1 6 to 17 3/8 .

Ford to add 1,000 jobs in Kentucky
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. said it's adding 1,000 workers and boosting production of F-series commercial pickup trucks at its Kentucky Truck Plant here starting next year.

The plant will start operating on a 120-hour production week using a work-crew system from the current two-shift, 80-hour week, by next June.

The plant currently has maximum capacity of 223,000 F-250 and F-350 work trucks. The company wouldn't say what the capacity would be under the new system.

The extra workers will be hired mostly among from employees laid off at other Ford plants, the company said. About 650 are coming from the plant in Lorain, Ohio, where production of Thunderbird and Cougar cars ended last month.

AP raises basic rate 2.9%
NEW YORK (AP) -- The board of directors of The Associated Press has approved a 2.9 percent general assessment increase for members of the news cooperative, effective Feb. 1, 1998.

The increase applies to all AP newspaper and broadcast members except commercial radio stations, who will be covered by a new assessment formula that will be announced soon.

Changes in circulation, on which AP's newspaper rates are based, also will affect the actual change in weekly assessment for many newspapers.

Area stocks decline this week
The Buffalo Bloomberg Stock Index, an employee-weighted list of 58 companies with operations in Western New York, fell 1.76, or 0.95 percent, to 183.85 this week. The index is up 37.41 percent so far this year.

The drop was led by the American depositary receipts of U.K.-based HSBC Holdings Plc, the holding group for the HSBC Group, which fell 52 to 247 this week. HSBC, which has large businesses in Hong Kong, suffered as Hong Kong shares plunged this week as interest rates soared and investors worried that the country might have to devalue its currency. Buffalo-based HSBC Americas is a subsidiary that includes Marine Midland Bank.

Leading the gaining issues was Ingram Micro Inc., up 3 7/1 6 to 27 5/1 6 for the week. On Monday, Ingram Micro's shares were raised to "strong buy" from "buy" by BT Alex. Brown & Sons Inc.

This week, the Buffalo Bloomberg Index outperformed the Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq Composite Index. It underperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 131.62, or 1.68 percent, to 7,715.41, while the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 15.93, or 0.96 percent, to 1,650.92. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 2.52, or 0.27 percent, to 941.64.

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