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retail sales in the US surged 1.2 percent in August, the biggest increase in six months, the Commerce Department reported. The advance was nearly double what economists generally expected, raising new concern that the Federal Reserve might do more in terms of boosting interest rates. Meanwhile, the US trade deficit soared to a record $80.7 billion in the spring quarter, as a small increase in export sales was swamped by a huge rise in imports, including a big increase in the nation's oil bill.

Sixty-four new car and truck models, developed at a cost of $48.15 billion, will roll off DaimlerChrysler assembly lines over the next three years, the Financial Times reported. Citing internal company documents, it said the "unprecedented" investment - to be announced today at the Frankfurt International Motor Show - was possible because cost savings achieved in last year's merger of the US and German automakers had exceeded expectations.

Compiled by Robert Kilborn and Lance Carden

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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