Pre-Christmas imports surged to an unprecedented $109.39 billion in November, helping to widen the US trade deficit to a record $26.5 billion, the Commerce Department reported. At the same time, however, exports rose to a record $82.9 billion as demand picked up for American electronics and industrial supplies, Commerce said. The trade deficit set new monthly records eight times last year as effects from a global financial crisis lingered.
Telecommunications giant Vodafone AirTouch tried to break down the defenses of its $155 billion hostile takeover target, Mannesmann AG, with a new initiative. A senior Vodafone executive said his company was prepared to raise its bid by about $5 billion and to offer concessions on other concerns. But in Duesseldorf, Germany, Mannesmann repeated demands that discussions could take place only after assurances that its shareholders would own 58.5 percent of a merged company - a stake that Vodafone described as "a bridge too far." The two sides have been engaged since mid-November in what once was history's largest corporate takeover battle. Each is seeking to dominate Europe's fast-growing mobile-phone market.
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