News In Brief

Winter's severest cold spell helped to push crude-oil prices to a nine-year high Tuesday, peaking at $29 a barrel in futures trading in New York before closing at $28.85. Heating oil for February delivery also rose 3.23 cents a gallon to 77.04, and gasoline finished up 2.68 cents at 77.20. The jumps came after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries hinted last week it would extend production cuts - due to expire in March - through the rest of the year.

Dole Food Co. has hired Goldman Sachs & Co. to explore options - such as a possible sale - to boost its sagging share price, the Los Angeles Times reported. Dole, which markets a range of products from pineapple juice to packaged garden salads, blames a European quota on imported bananas for contributing to last year's third-quarter loss of $8 million. Dole shares, which traded at $34.13 last April, closed at $14.94 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Citigroup's investment bank, Salomon Smith Barney, and the investment division of London-based Schroders Plc. will merge in a $2.21 billion deal, it was announced in London. Schroders, one of Britain's few remaining family-owned merchant banks, and Salomon Smith Barney have struggled separately to compete in Europe. But their deal propels the combined company to seventh among the Continent's major banks.

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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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