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Deutsche Bank AG and Bankers Trust Corp. confirmed today that they are in the "advanced stages" of merger talks.

Germany's largest bank would pay nearly $9 billion, or $93 a share, for Bankers Trust, the eighth-largest bank in the United States. The deal would be the largest takeover of a U.S. financial institution by a foreign bank.

The boards of both banks have already agreed to support the deal, officials said.

The merger would still have to obtain approval of both New York state and federal banking regulators.

Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank has long been interested in acquiring a U.S. financial institution, and reportedly held failed talks with J.P. Morgan & Co. earlier this year.

Survey shows steady job outlook

NEW YORK (AP) -- The construction sector is leading the way in a job market that should remain steady throughout early next year, according to a survey released today.

Manpower Inc., the nation's largest temporary staffing business, says only 10 percent of the more than 15,000 companies it surveyed plan staff reductions during the first three months of 1999, when adjusting for seasonal factors.

Meanwhile, 23 percent of the companies are planning to increase hiring, while 63 percent plan no changes.

The Northeast will likely lag behind other regions in the first quarter of 1999, with just 21 percent of companies there saying they plan to hire.

Continental, union reach pact

HOUSTON (AP) -- Following a labor disagreement that threatened to disrupt the busy holiday travel season, officials with Continental Airlines Inc. and the union representing the carrier's 2,900 mechanics reached a tentative agreement Sunday on a new contract.

"We've achieved a tentative agreement that is fair for the mechanics and fair for the company," said Continental spokesman Ned Walker, who declined to release details of the proposed contract.

The agreement came after two days of closed-door meetings between Continental officials and representatives with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The airline's mechanics joined the union last year after 14 years without representation.

On Nov. 10, the mechanics rejected a proposed new contract.

Gasoline prices under $1 a gallon

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) -- Gasoline prices nationwide dropped more than a penny a gallon during the past two weeks, continuing a downward spiral as the holiday travel period nears, an industry analyst said Sunday.

The average price of gasoline, including all grades and taxes, was $1.073 a gallon on Friday, down 1.28 cents from Nov. 6, according to the Lundberg Survey of 10,000 stations nationwide.

Economic problems elsewhere, especially in Asia, has created a glut of oil "and brought a Thanksgiving bonanza in the form of low gas prices for American motorists," said Trilby Lundberg, publisher of the Lundberg Survey.

Pump prices have been dropping for a year. Friday's average was nearly 18 cents lower than Thanksgiving 1997 prices, Ms. Lundberg said.

The latest survey showed the average price of gasoline at self-service pumps, including taxes, was $1.014 for regular grade, $1.122 for mid-grade and $1.206 for premium. Of the 67 cities surveyed regularly, 36 were selling self-serve regular for less than a dollar.

At full-serve pumps, regular gasoline averaged $1.456, mid-grade was $1.545 and premium was $1.617.

This week in business

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

Tuesday -- The Commerce Department will release reports on gross domestic product, revised; third-quarter corporate profits, and durable goods for October. The Conference Board will announce the results of its monthly survey on consumer confidence.

Wednesday -- The Labor Department will release weekly jobless claims; the Commerce Department will release data on announce personal income for October, and the National Association of Realtors will release figures on existing home sales for October.

Thursday -- Thanksgiving. U.S. financial markets are closed.

Friday -- Stock markets close at 1 p.m.

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