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An industry group led by Boeing won the first $125 million installment of a $3 billion research contract with the US Air Force and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. The goal of the research is to decide whether space-based lasers can defend against long-range enemy missiles. The others on the contract team are Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space of Sunnyvale, Calif., and TRW Inc., of Redondo Beach, Calif.

US soybean exports will fall to 810 million bushels this season, the lowest in five years, the Agriculture Department said in reports indicating no relief was in sight for farmers from low grain, cotton, and oilseed prices. A global grain glut, financial turmoil in Asia and Russia, and the prospect of large soybean crops in South America have stunted world demand for gargantuan US soybean, corn, and wheat crops. Farm income generally was forecast to drop by 6 percent this year, pulled down by low grain and livestock prices.

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