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INVESTORS PULLING MONEY FROM INTERNATIONAL FUNDS

Mutual fund investors are withdrawing cash from international stock funds and pouring cash into U.S. stock funds as 1997 comes to a close, according to an industry report.

An estimated net $650 million was pulled from funds investing in international stocks in the one-week period that ended Monday, while an estimated net $4.84 billion went into funds that buy U.S. stocks, according to Trim Tabs Financial Services Inc. of Santa Rosa, Calif., which tracks mutual fund money flows.

Investors have been steadily pulling cash from international funds since late summer amid concern about plunging financial markets in Asia.

Among specific groups of funds, an estimated net $1.1 billion was added to so-called aggressive growth funds and an estimated net $1.59 billion was invested in conservatively managed U.S. "growth and income" equity funds, Trim Tabs reported.

30-year mortgages below 7%

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Thirty-year, fixed rate mortgages fell below 7 percent this week for the first time in nearly two years, Freddie Mac reported Wednesday.

The mortgage company said they averaged 6.99 percent, down from 7.07 percent last week and the lowest since they dropped to 6.94 percent during the week of Feb. 15, 1996.

On one-year adjustable rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 5.53 percent, up from 5.51 percent last week.

Fifteen-year mortgages, a popular option for those refinancing mortgages, averaged 6.57 percent this week, down from 6.65 percent a week earlier.

The rates do not include points.

BellSouth loses long-distance bid

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Regional Bell companies seeking to provide lucrative long-distance service to some local customers are 0-for-3 after the government's latest rejection Wednesday.

The Federal Communications Commission, in a 5-0 vote, agreed that BellSouth Corp. has not sufficiently opened its local telephone market in South Carolina to competition -- a prerequisite for providing long-distance service there.

Earlier this year, the FCC rejected requests by SBC Communications Inc. and Ameritech Corp. for authority to provide long-distance in their local phone markets of Oklahoma and Michigan, respectively.

BellSouth said it would appeal the FCC's decision.

Help-wanted index rises

NEW YORK (AP) -- Help-wanted advertising in the nation's newspapers rose in every region of the country last month as the economy continued to strengthen, a research group reported Wednesday.

The November help-wanted advertising index climbed to 92, up from 87 in October, the Conference Board reported in its monthly study. The index also stood at 87 in November 1996.

Searle's arthritis drug OK'd

CHICAGO (Bloomberg) -- Monsanto Co.'s G.D. Searle unit said it obtained U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance to start sales of a new drug for arthritis pain, Arthrotec, designed to work without irritating the stomach in patients at high risk for ulcers.

Existing pain medications, such as aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs such as American Home Products Corp.'s Advil, can irritate the lining of the stomach and cause bleeding and ulcers.

FAA closes jet-engine repair firm

MIAMI (AP) -- A company that repairs airplane parts has been shut down for making improper repairs and then falsifying records to cover up the mistakes, federal regulators said Wednesday.

International Jet Repairs Inc. "no longer possesses the degree of care, judgment and responsibility required to hold an air agency certificate," the Federal Aviation Administration wrote in its order. Air safety was "significantly compromised" by the suburban Hialeah company, it said.

IJR had repaired the parts, engine combustion chambers, for a Texas-based parts supplier which in turn shipped them to Air Canada. Officials at Air Canada found that a key coating was either missing or faulty on many of the chambers, so it shipped them back to the parts supplier, which notified the FAA of the problems.

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