News In Brief

Another 1 million barrel-a-day cut in crude oil production is being considered by OPEC members as they prepare for next month's regular meeting, a senior executive said. Secretary-General Ali Rodriguez of Venezuela told reporters there is "almost a conviction" among members for a new reduction because of an anticipated seasonal drop in demand in major consuming nations such as the US. Such a move is said to have the support of Saudi Arabia, the world's leading producer. The cartel is due to meet March 17 in Vienna, where members approved a 1.5 million barrel-a-day cut last month. The cartel's strategy has been to maintain prices at between $22 and $28 a barrel for future deliveries, based on a "basket" of seven different crudes. On Monday, the average price was $25.28.

In a $1.4 billion deal that's expected to meet with intense scrutiny by regulators, Energy East Corp. will acquire electric utility rival RGS Energy Group Inc., The New York Times reported. The combined company would have a base of almost 3 million customers in upstate New York and New England. But the regulators are expected to be concerned about the impact on rate-payers from rising prices as the utility industry contracts through such mergers. Energy East is based in Albany, N.Y.; RGS in Rochester.

The parent company of specialty retail chain Frank's Nursery & Crafts Inc. filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection and announced it will close "approximately 24" underperforming stores as part of a reorganization plan. Troy, Mich.-based FNC Holdings blamed adverse weather patterns last year for disappointing sales. The company operates 218 stores in 15 states, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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