News In Brief

The US trade deficit grew to $24.4 billion in September, even though farm exports hit the highest level in 19 months, the Commerce Department reported. Deficits with China and Japan rose - and China's set an all-time high for US trade with any country. For the year, the deficit is now running at an annual rate of $255.5 billion, 56 percent higher than last year's record of $164.3 billion.

A new hostile takeover offer of at least $235 billion was expected to be made to the German conglomerate Mannesmann AG by British telecommunications giant Vodafone AirTouch in time for the former's supervisory board meeting today. Vodafone's directors were meeting as the Monitor went to press to prepare the bid after winning the OK of stockholders. Mannesmann's board rejected a $106 billion offer earlier this week. The companies are battling for supremacy in Europe's mobile-phone industry.

The most severe drought in 40 years has affected "enormous areas" of coffee plantings in Brazil and is likely to cut next year's May-June harvest by 25 percent, a conference of producer nations was told. Closing International Coffee Week in San Jos, Costa Rica, a leading industry economist said it appeared damage would be greatest to high-quality crops. Brazil produces more than twice as much coffee annually as its nearest competitor, Colombia.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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