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IN OTHER BUSINESS NEWS

McDonald's Corp. has scaled back its earnings estimate for next year. The company said 2002 earnings per share, excluding special items, are seen as increasing by 5 percent to 10 percent, short of Wall Street's expectations of a 12 percent increase.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved the merger of electric utilities GPU Inc. and FirstEnergy Corp. The effective date for the merger is Nov. 7. The companies had agreed on a price of $4.5 billion in stock.

Dell Computer Corp. launched a low-cost PC that comes in just one configuration, instead of many. Analysts called the SmartStep computer, available for $599 directly from Dell, an intriguing experiment during slow demand for PCs.

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