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Buffalo stock index declines

Buffalo stocks fell this week, led by Delphi Corp. and Mod-Pac Corp.

The Buffalo Bloomberg Stock Index fell 1.18 points, or 0.5 percent, to 234.10. Thirty-three stocks fell, 20 rose and one was unchanged. The index has risen 12 percent in the past year.

Troy, Mich.-based Delphi, which makes auto parts, led the index's decliners, falling 38 cents, or 9 percent, to $3.86, after Dana Corp., the No. 1 U.S. maker of light-truck axles, cut its 2005 earnings forecast.

Buffalo-based Mod-Pac, which makes packaging for consumer products, also fell, losing $1.04, or 8.5 percent, to $11.14.

Amherst-based Columbus McKinnon Corp., which makes hoists and cranes, rose $2.35, or 11 percent, to $23.07.

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US Airways exit plan OK'd

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) -- US Airways received final approval Friday to exit bankruptcy protection for the second time in three years and merge with America West Holdings Corp.

The ruling allows the airline to be purchased by America West, the nation's eighth-largest airline, as soon as Sept. 27.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Mitchell's approved the airline's reorganization plan -- of which the merger is the centerpiece -- after allowing the airline to provide $12 million in severance pay to 11 executives who will not be given jobs at the merged airline. Unions had said the package was excessive given the cut in pay and benefits absorbed by rank-and-file workers.

America West stockholders will hold a 37 percent stake in the new company; outside investors who are supplying $565 million in financing will get about 52 percent of the shares, and US Airways' unsecured creditors will get 12 percent.

Existing US Airways shares will be wiped out, meaning the Retirement Systems of Alabama, a pension fund for some public employees in that state, will lose its entire $240 million investment, which financed the company's first bankruptcy reorganization in 2003.

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France threatens windfall tax

PARIS (AP) -- French oil company Total SA agreed Friday to pass on any decline in the price of gasoline to consumers more swiftly and to invest more in refineries after the government threatened to levy a new windfall tax.

The world's fourth-largest oil company by sales made the commitment following talks in Paris with Finance Minister Thierry Breton and executives from other oil companies. The government had urged them to boost capacity and lower the cost of gas at the pump.

Total Chairman and CEO Thierry Desmarest pledged to pass on declines in wholesale prices to French consumers within a few days, and will wait much longer before passing on increases in order to protect consumers from speculative spikes.

Total said it plans to spend 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) on French refineries over the next five years -- more than three times its investment in the first half of the decade. It also announced an 800 million euros ($978 million) plan to build a new French "upgrader" facility to convert surplus heavy fuel oil into automotive fuel.

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GM's Opel rejects union plea

BERLIN (AP) -- General Motors Corp.'s Opel unit on Friday rejected a plea from a labor representative to reconsider its plans to cut 2,800 jobs at its Bochum plant by 2007.

"There are clear numbers and an agreement with the works council. That will be adhered to," said Ulrich Weber, a spokesman for Adam Opel AG.

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