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CANADIAN DOLLAR CLOSES AT LOWEST POINT IN 12 YEARS

The Canadian dollar fell a quarter of a cent Friday and closed below 70 U.S. cents for the first time in nearly 12 years.

The dollar traded as low as 69.75 U.S. cents and ended the day at 69.88 cents.

It was the first time since March 1986 that the dollar had closed trading under the 70-cent level.

The dollar's all-time trading low -- 69.17 cents -- was reached Feb. 4, 1986.

Although the dollar fell through an important psychological barrier, analysts said it reflects volatility in Asia and not any underlying problems with the Canadian economy.

Canada is faring well compared to most other industrial countries with 4 percent annual growth, almost no inflation and a federal budget that is on the verge of being balanced.

Finance Minister Paul Martin suggested the currency will revive over the next few months.

"We live in an interdependent world and when something happens in one part of the world it obviously has an effect on us here," he said, referring to Asia's economic crisis.

Chrysler sets large recall
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Chrysler Corp. said Friday it will recall more than 1.3 million cars and pickups in North America to fix problems related to suspensions and fuel tank valves.

The No. 3 automaker said the suspension recall affects 740,000 1996 and 1997 Chrysler Sebring convertibles and 1995 to 1997 Chrysler Cirrus, Dodge Stratus and Plymouth Breeze cars.

Corrosion could cause some ball joint components in the front suspension to separate from the lower control arm, Chrysler said. The problem has prompted 25 complaints and caused two accidents and a minor injury, said Chrysler spokeswoman Michele Tinson.

The automaker said dealers will replace problematic ball joints.

Also, Chrysler said it will notify 585,000 owners of 1994 to 1996 Dodge Ram pickups of a recall early next year. Dealers will replace a fuel tank valve that might allow fuel to leak into an emission canister or onto the ground.

Meanwhile, a judge in Sacramento, Calif., agreed Friday to consider reinstating a state agency's order that would block Chrysler from shipping new cars to California for 45 days.

Superior Court Judge Cecily Bond set the stage for the first civil court hearing on allegations that Chrysler resold "lemon" vehicles to unsuspecting buyers. Arguments are not expected for at least two months.

Judge removes Microsoft browser
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge said Friday he quickly removed Internet browser software from the Windows 95 computer system, disputing Microsoft's contention that its system will not perform properly without the program.

The procedure took 90 seconds and "Windows 95 functioned flawlessly as it was intended to operate," U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson said. A courthouse technician showed him how, he said.

Nevertheless, he scheduled a Jan. 13 hearing for "designated spokespeople" from both the Justice Department and Microsoft Corp. to argue the question of whether the two programs can be separated without impairing their operation.

ConAgra posts higher earnings
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- ConAgra Inc., which owns a flour mill in Buffalo, reported a 12 percent increase in net income for the second quarter despite a 2 percent decline in sales.

Net income was $210 million, or 46 cents a share, for the quarter ended Nov. 23 compared with $187 million, or 41 cents, a year earlier.

Sales dropped to $6.4 billion from $6.5 billion for the same period last year.

Bon-Ton leads area stocks higher
Buffalo area stocks rose this week, led by Bon-Ton Stores Inc., National Fuel Gas Co. and Moog Inc.

The Buffalo Bloomberg Stock Index, an employee-weighted list of 58 companies with operations in the region, rose 5.55, or 3 percent, to 183.44 this week. The index is up 36.95 percent so far this year.

For the week, Bon-Ton Stores shares increased 1/2 to 12 1/2 .

National Fuel Gas rose 1 5/8 to 46 5/8 this week.

Class A shares of Moog increased 1 1/1 6 to 33 1/2 this week.

Among declining issues, shares of El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel Inc. fell 3- 9/1 6 to 37- 5/1 6.

The Buffalo Bloomberg Stock Index outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite Index.

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