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Gold topped $300 per troy ounce this afternoon, a day after a group of European central banks triggered the biggest one-day increase in gold prices in 13 years with a surprise plan to put a cap on their planned sales of gold bullion.

Gold in London rose $21.60 to $301.50 this afternoon, after gaining $11.30 on Monday.

The rebound in gold prices followed the announcement on Sunday by 15 central banks that they would limit their combined sales of bullion to 400 tons per year for a total of five years.

Chase buying Hambrecht & Quist

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- Chase Manhattan Corp., the second-largest U.S. bank, agreed to pay $1.35 billion in cash to buy Hambrecht & Quist Group, the San Francisco-based investment bank that underwrote the initial stock sales of technology companies ranging from Apple Computer Inc. to Inc.

New York-based Chase agreed to pay $50 a share for Hambrecht & Quist, a premium of 22 percent to Monday's closing stock price of $41.06. Chase will also set aside $200 million in stock to retain key Hambrecht & Quist bankers.

The purchase will extend Chase's "investment banking range of products in the highest growth sector of the U.S. economy, where media, telecommunications, information technology and the Internet converge," William Harrison, Jr., Chase's chief executive, said in a statement.

Yields mixed on Treasury bills

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Treasury Department in Monday's auction sold three-month bills at a discount rate of 4.720 percent, up from 4.660 percent last week. Six-month bills went at 4.810 percent, down from 4.890 percent.

The new discount rates understate the actual return to investors -- 4.856 percent for three-month bills with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,880.70, and 5.013 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,756.80.

In a separate report, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, the most popular index for making changes in adjustable rate mortgages, declined to 5.23 percent last week from 5.26 percent the previous week.

Huffy to end bike output in U.S.

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- Huffy Corp. said Monday it will close its two bicycle plants in the United States by year's end and begin importing all of its bikes. The company cited competitive pressures from Chinese-made bicycles, which have declined in price during the past six months.

Huffy has been making bicycles in the United States since 1934 and currently imports about 70 percent of its bikes from China, Taiwan and Mexico. The company holds 25 percent to 30 percent of the U.S. market, the largest single share.

The move eliminates the jobs of 600 workers.

London Fog files for bankruptcy

NEW YORK (AP) -- London Fog Industries Inc., one of the best-known names in raincoats, sought bankruptcy protection Monday and said it would close about 110 of its 140 retail stores.

The closings of factory outlets, specialty stores and stand-alone superstores will eliminate about 500 of the company's approximately 1,500 jobs.

William Dragon Jr., president and chief executive, said competing with department stores that also sell London Fog products was a poor strategy.

In other business news

An investment group organized by the private U.S. equity firm Ripplewood Holdings LLC plans to acquire debt-laden Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan Ltd. in what would be the first foreign acquisition of a major Japanese bank. The deal disclosed today represents a step forward in efforts to clean up Japan's banking problems.

Cablevision said Monday it is putting its cable systems in Boston, Cleveland and Kalamazoo, Mich., on the market to focus on New York.

IBM Corp., emerging as the top name in running computers for e-commerce and other key operations, scored again with a $6 billion pact to provide technical support for Dell Computer customers. The seven-year agreement comes six months after Dell agreed to buy $16 billion worth of computer components from IBM, also over a seven-year span.

Lockheed Martin Co. announced plans to sell eight businesses that employ 9,000 people. Companies targeted for sale include Sanders in Nashua and Manchester, N.H.; Infrared Imaging Systems in Lexington, Mass.; Fairchild Systems in Syosset and Yonkers, N.Y.; Control Systems in Johnson City, N.Y. and Ft. Wayne, Ind.; Hanford Corp. of Richland, Wash.; Retech of Ukiah, Calif.; and the Energy Technologies unit based in Bethesda.

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