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SALES OF NEW HOMES JUMP TO RECORD HIGH IN FEBRUARY

Low mortgage rates and unseasonably warm weather propelled sales of new homes to a record high in February, with all regions except the South posting big gains.

Sales of new single-family homes jumped 4.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 893,000, the Commerce Department said today. That broke the old record of 880,000, set in March 1986. The series goes back to 1963.

Confounding predictions, new home sales are off to an extraordinarily fast start this year -- they rose 5.2 percent in January -- after hitting a 19-year high of 804,000 in 1997.

Also, the National Association of Realtors reported last week that existing home sales hit a record 4.75 million annual rate during the month.

BMW wins bid for Rolls-Royce

LONDON (AP) -- Germany's BMW won a bidding war to take over Rolls-Royce today, overcoming rival Volkswagen and a group of Rolls enthusiasts making an attempt to keep the company British.

Vickers PLC, the corporate parent of Rolls-Royce, said it had reached an agreement in principle to sell the flagship of elegant, expensive motoring for $570 million. The deal must be approved by shareholders.

BMW was one of four bidders to make it to the final stage of the auction. The others were Volkswagen, the Rolls-Royce Acquisition Consortium, and the British venture capital group Doughty Hanson.

CVS to pay $600,000 fine

WASHINGTON (AP) -- CVS Corp. has agreed to pay a $600,000 fine to settle charges it violated a federal agreement stemming from the corporation's acquisition of Revco, the Federal Trade Commission announced.

In 1997, CVS and Revco signed a consent order and asset maintenance agreement with the FTC to protect the marketability and competitiveness of Revco drug stores by preserving all pharmacy files, computer files and other types of records.

The FTC alleges that CVS violated the agreement when it removed the computerized pharmacy record-keeping systems from 113 Revco stores before they were divested to another company, Eckerd. CVS instead gave Eckerd the files on microfiche, which requires pharmacists to manually look up patient information.

Nike says 'free shoes' e-mail is hoax

BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) -- If you're looking for a pair of free shoes, don't call Nike.

The sneaker giant said an e-mail circulating in cyberspace promising a free pair of Nike shoes in exchange for old ones is a hoax.

Since the e-mail began making the rounds last month, Nike has been flooded with hundreds of pairs of worn-out shoes.

Nike spokesman Scott Reams said the company is offering to return the used shoes to victims of the hoax. Those not returned will be recycled.

Kenny Rogers Roasters in bankruptcy

MIAMI (AP) -- Kenny Rogers Roasters' parent company, which has seen the chain lose 200 restaurants over the last four years, is seeking bankruptcy court protection from its creditors.

Roasters Corp. said in a statement the franchise would remain open while reorganizing its finances.

This week in business

Here are the major business and economic events scheduled for this week:

Tuesday -- The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee meets, and the Conference Board will issue results of its monthly survey on consumer confidence.

Wednesday -- Chrysler Corp. will report March sales; the Conference Board will release the Leading Economic Indicators for February; the National Association of Purchasing Management will release its business survey for March, and the Commerce Department will report on construction spending for January.

Thursday -- The Labor Department will release weekly jobless claims; The Commerce Department will report on factory orders for February, and Freddie Mac will releases weekly mortgage rates.

Friday -- General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. will report March sales, and the Labor Department will release its March unemployment report.

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