America Online won a key OK from regulators for its $135 billion buyout of Time Warner Inc. The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said it concluded after four months of study that the deal could go forward because "fears" that the combined company would restrict Internet broadband access in Europe "were unfounded." The commission did, however, require AOL to cut its ties to German multimedia giant Bertelsmann AG, the leading music publisher in Europe. The massive merger still awaits approval in the US from the Federal Trade and Federal Communications commissions.
Prices for future deliveries of crude oil were inching up toward their highest level in a decade - $34.98 per barrel - because of falling stockpiles and earlier than usual cold weather in the US. The benchmark US light crude hit $34 a barrel in after-hours trading in New York Monday before settling back to $33.90. In all, the price has gained $3 since last Friday, almost half the amount it fell after President Clinton ordered the release of 30 million barrels of crude in September from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. But analysts warned that the release - only enough for a day and a half at current national consumption rates - would do little to improve the availability of heating oil. And one-third of the amount was awarded to enterprises with no known transportation or refining facilities.
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