News In Brief

US industrial output rose in July at the fastest rate this

year, the Federal Reserve said. It credited a searing heat wave and a resurgent manufacturing sector for a 0.7 percent increase last month after a revised 0.1 percent rise in June. Industrial firms were reported to be running at 80.7 percent of their maximum capacity in July - the strongest rate since December. Nonetheless, it remained well below an 83 percent rate that some analysts regard as potentially signaling an inflation risk because of supply problems.

US housing starts rose by 5.7 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.661 million units, the Commerce Department reported. That beat Wall Street economists' forecasts for a 1.61 million rate -- and recouped almost all of June's 5.8 percent decline. The July pick-up came despite rising mortgage rates.

Burlington Resources agreed to acquire Canada's Poco Petroleums in a deal the companies said was worth $2.5 billion in stock and debt. Houston-based Burlington is a leading US independent oil and gas producer, and the deal would create North America's largest independent natural-gas producer. It calls for investors to receive 0.25 Burlington shares for each share of Poco Petroleums. The exchange values each Poco share at $11.33, or a 25 percent premium to Monday's closing price. Burlington said it would also assume roughly $750 million of Poco debt.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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