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.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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