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The Canadian Auto Workers overwhelmingly ratified a new contract with Ford Motor Co. on Sunday, and announced it was turning to DaimlerChrysler AG for its next deal.

CAW President Buzz Hargrove said 4,923 of about 13,330 Ford employees voted on the new three-year contract Sunday. About 94 percent approved, he said.

The deal provides combined salary and cost-of-living increases of 4.5 percent in each of its three years. It also offers a one-time signing bonus of $678 and improved pension benefits.

The CAW said it would negotiate next with DaimlerChrysler, and set a strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. Oct. 5. Hargrove said he saw no reason why the union would strike DaimlerChrysler. But he added that DaimlerChrysler would have to agree to Ford's promise to tell its non-unionized suppliers not to interfere in union drives.

Lender's Bagels sold by Kellogg
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) -- Kellogg Co. is selling its Lender's Bagels business to the owner of Log Cabin syrup and Aunt Jemima pancake mix for $275 million -- 41 percent below what it paid for Lender's less than four years ago.

The sale, which was expected and was announced today, is the latest by Kellogg to revive its sagging stock price.

The buyer is Aurora Foods Inc., a diversified $1 billion food company based in San Francisco with brands like Duncan Hines, Log Cabin, Mrs. Butterworth's, Van de Kamp's, Mrs. Paul's, Chef's Choice, Aunt Jemima, and Celeste.

Kellogg had purchased Lender's in 1996 for $466 million. New CEO Carlos Gutierrez had said recently the division's future with the cereal-maker was questionable because it wasn't making money.

The deal includes Lender's plants in Mattoon, Ill., and West Seneca, N.Y., and is expected to be completed by Nov. 1.

Kellogg expects to record a charge to earnings of approximately $170 million before taxes in the current quarter as a result of the sale. Kellogg plans to report third quarter results Oct. 28.

Boards approve Veba-Viag merger
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- The supervisory boards of German utilities Veba and Viag on Sunday approved the $14.6 billion merger that will create one of Europe's biggest electricity suppliers.

Shareholders and regulators must also approve.

The merger would create Germany's biggest electricity supplier ahead of RWE and Europe's third largest after Electricite de France and ENEL of Italy.

The conglomerates said the combined firm would also become the world's biggest supplier of specialty chemicals. And they said they would expand their telecommunications and real estate activities, while shedding non-core activities.

Gasoline prices up 1.5 cents
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Gasoline prices nationwide surged more than 1 1/2 cents in the past two weeks because crude oil prices continue to increase, an industry analyst said Sunday.

The weighted average nationwide as of Friday was $1.3341, up 1.63 cents per gallon from a Sept. 10 survey, said Trilby Lundberg, who directs the Lundberg survey of 10,000 gasoline stations across the nation.

A 4-cent-a-gallon dip, however, occurred in the West, which continues to recover from a gas shortage prompted by Northern California refinery fires in the spring, Ms. Lundberg said.

The Lundberg survey showed a national average price for self-service regular unleaded gasoline of $1.2817. Mid-grade unleaded was $1.3803 and premium unleaded was $1.4652.

For full service regular unleaded, the survey showed the average price was $1.6112 with mid-grade at $1.6976 and premium at $1.7720.

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

Tuesday -- The Conference Board will release its latest consumer confidence index.

Wednesday -- The Commerce Department will report on durable goods for August.

Thursday -- The Commerce Department will release figures on gross domestic product for the second quarter and new home sales for August, and the Labor Department will announce weekly jobless claims.

Friday -- DaimlerChrysler will report its North American sales figures for September; the National Association of Purchasing Management will issue its report on manufacturing for September, and the Commerce Department will report on personal income and construction spending for August.


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