News In Brief

Rising US energy prices pushed the producer price index up 0.2 percent last month while costs of other items were, on average, little changed, the Labor Department reported. The increase in the index, which measures inflation pressures before they reach consumers, followed a 0.1 percent decline in October. Not counting volatile energy and food categories, the "core" inflation rate at the wholesale level was flat in November, better than many analysts expected. In October, the core rate was up 0.3 percent.

Formal announcement is expected today of an insurance industry partnership that would become the world's fifth-largest in terms of total assets, a report from Tokyo said. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said Yasuda and Fukoku, two carriers that manage a combined $142 billion business, also would transform themselves from mutual-life to joint stock companies with a view toward a full-blown merger as soon as next spring.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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