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FORD RECALLS SOME VEHICLES BECAUSE OF FLYING HOODS

Ford Motor Co. is recalling 769,000 Windstar minivans and Mustang sports cars after complaints the hoods were flying off some of the vehicles.

The government's highway safety agency received 45 complaints that the top panel of the hoods detached from the lower panel, flying off or up against the windshield while the vehicle was moving, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report released Thursday.

The lower panel remains over the engine, secured by the hood latch, the report said.

Ford said its dealers soon will have parts to fix the vehicles.

NHTSA spokesman Tim Hurd said the recall involves 769,000 Windstars, model years 1995-96, and Mustangs, model years 1994-96.

Motorists claimed the flying hoods caused at least two crashes and one injury. The company has told the government the likely cause was damage in earlier low-speed collisions.

Ford also is voluntarily recalling more than 1 million other vehicles, including 973,000 of its best-selling pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, because of concerns about transmission shift cables.

The vehicles include the 1997 and 1998 Ford F-150, F-250, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. The shift cable may detach from the steering bracket or separate at the transmission end bracket fitting on some vehicles, Ford said.

Waste Management problems deep
CHICAGO (AP) -- With the sudden departure of top executives of Waste Management Inc., including a chief executive hired only three months ago, analysts predicted Thursday there will be no quick way to get the trash hauler out of the dumps.

The company's shares tumbled as much as 24 percent as Wall Street was abuzz with speculation the departed executives had discovered major accounting irregularities that would impede implementation of an aggressive turnaround plan.

But its new acting chief executive, Robert S. "Steve" Miller, an outside director and turnaround specialist, said late Thursday he knew of no irregularities in the company's accounting.

Waste Management's stock finished down $5.75, or 20 percent, at $23.25 a share Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Mortgage rate hits 20-month low
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mortgage rates fell this week to the lowest level in 20 months.

The decline in the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to 7.21 percent from 7.35 percent a week earlier brought the average to its lowest level since the week ended Feb. 15, 1996, Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, said Thursday.

Fifteen-year mortgages averaged 6.76 percent this week, down from 6.90 percent and also the lowest since February 1996.

On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 5.46 percent, down from 5.55 percent and the lowest in eight months.

Imation Corp. cutting 1,500 jobs
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Imation Corp., faced with mounting losses, said Thursday it will restructure its worldwide operations and lay off up to 1,500 people, or about 15 percent of its work force.

Imation, formerly part of 3M, provides data-storage, printing and medical imaging products. The announcement was made as the firm reported a third-quarter loss of $38.7 million, or 97 cents a share, compared with earnings of $11.8 million, or 29 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

In other business news
Spokesmen for accounting giants Andersen Worldwide and Deloitte & Touche today denied a report in The Wall Street Journal that the firms have held merger talks.

K-III Communications Corp., the publisher of New York and Seventeen magazines, is changing its admittedly confusing name to Primedia Inc. to better describe its business.

The Treasury Department sold 80-day cash management bills on Thursday at an average discount rate of 5.18 percent. The discount rate understates the actual return to investors -- 5.31 percent with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,884.90

Corporate Japan suffered another black eye Thursday as Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s top two executives resigned after the disclosure last week of suspected payoffs to racketeers. Also Thursday, Toshiba Corp. admitted making regular payments to a racketeer-linked company for the past decade.

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