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The leaders of eight major European stock exchanges agreed Friday to take steps toward creating a pan-European market that could one day rival Wall Street.

Heads of the Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris and Zurich bourses said their meeting was "very constructive," and that they were strongly committed to the "continuation of the collective process."

The importance of Friday's gathering was that it finally laid age-old rivalries to rest and made the courtship official. The launch of a single European currency next year, coupled with rapid technological change which is threatening to make every bourse a virtual electronic platform, has forced national exchanges to accept they can no longer exist in isolation.

The agreement comes four months after the Frankfurt and London exchanges announced plans to form a joint market. The French had criticized the Anglo-German plan at the time, but since then Paris has been seeking a way to get in on the proposed alliance.

Of all attendees, only the officials from the Stockholm exchange declined to join the committee. Stockholm had previously expressed skepticism.

New thrift plans downtown branch

Greater Buffalo Savings Bank hopes to open its first branch at Court and Franklin streets downtown by spring.

Bank organizers expect to submit a formal charter application with state banking regulators next week. They expect the state Banking Department to rule on the application by February.

The downtown branch office would be on the ground floor of the Convention Towers Building at 43 Court St. and have a staff off 11.

"Initially, all bank operations will be handled out of this location, bringing the total number of bank staff, including lending, accounting operations and management to 21 professionals," said Andrew W. Dorn, president of Greater Buffalo Savings Bank Development Corp.

The bank has also been negotiating to purchase the Braun Cadillac building at Main Street and Jewett Parkway for a headquarters.

Russia to adopt supply-side fix

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's government announced plans Friday to cut taxes in an effort to collect more of them and pump some life into the moribund economy.

Tax cheating is a huge problem in Russia. Some economists blame it for the cash crunch that led the government to devalue the ruble and default on its foreign loans in August. Those actions set off a banking crisis that plunged the country into economic turmoil.

Critics say the government brought the mess on itself by setting tax rates so high many businesses can't pay.

Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov said the government will propose reducing the value-added tax to 14 percent from 20 percent and the profit tax to 30 percent from 35 percent.

Chrysler Canada president dies

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas (AP) -- Chrysler Canada President and Chief Executive Bill Glaub has died while on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands, only seven months after taking the helm of Canada's third-largest carmaker. He was 49.

There were conflicting reports about how he died.

An official at the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital, said Glaub apparently suffered a heart attack Thursday while on a beach on St. Thomas island.

But Chrysler Canada said it appeared that Glaub had died in a boating accident while on his honeymoon with his wife, Jan.

Local stocks lag market this week

The Buffalo Bloomberg Stock Index, an employee-weighted list of 57 companies with operations in Western New York, rose 1.76 points, or 0.9 percent, this week to 197.21. The index is up 3.8 percent so far this year.

Ingram Micro Inc., the world's largest distributor of computer products, led the gainers with a rise of 2 3/1 6 to end the week at 43.

Among the laggards, May Department Stores Co. fell 2 1/2 to end the week at 60 1 1/1 6.

This week, the Bloomberg Buffalo Stock Index underperformed the Dow Jones industrial average, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the Nasdaq Composite Index. For the week, the Dow rose 173.53, or 1.90 percent, to 9,333.08; The S&P 500 rose 28.74, or 2.47 percent, to 1,192.29, and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 88.23, or 4.58 percent, to 2,016.44.

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