News In Brief

US stock prices surged to record highs as growth in new jobs, low unemployment, and an easing of wage inflation sparked a big rally on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average soared 268 points Friday and 191 points Thursday - the biggest two-day point increase in history - ending the week's trading at a record 9,736. Unemployment edged up, but only slightly, to 4.4 percent.

A $1 billion loan program for the US steel industry has been attached to a wide-ranging supplemental-spending measure in Congress for fiscal 1999. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Robert Byrd (D) of West Virginia, is designed to help struggling steelmakers cope with low-priced imports. Congressional aides said the proposal would allow steel companies through 2001 to borrow $25 million to $250 million each at market rates and take up to six years to repay it.

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