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Contract negotiations between American Airlines and its flight attendants reached an impasse, making a walkout possible in the days leading up to the July 4 holiday. The National Mediation Board reported a deadlock after three days of talks between Fort Worth, Texas-based American and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. The board has offered to arbitrate further, and a final decision will come next week. Attendants have worked without a new contract for more than two years.

In a $2 billion all-stock deal, Pride International Inc. said it had agreed to merge with Marine Drilling Cos. to create the world's third-largest offshore oil-exploration service. Both partners are based in Houston.

Electronic Data Systems announced it will acquire Structural Dynamics Research Corp. (SDRC) for $1.12 billion in cash and stock and combine it with Unigraphics Solutions. Both companies make software for computer-aided design. EDS, based in Plano, Texas, said it will spend $170 million to buy the 14 percent it doesn't already own of Unigraphics. SDRC and Unigraphics are based in Milford, Ohio, and Cypress, Calif., respectively.

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Allina Health System said it is laying off 1,000 employees to offset expenses for a potential strike by registered nurses next Friday. The affected workers are not directly involved in patient care at Allina's clinics and hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

Railtrack, the national network once known as British Rail, reported the first annual loss - $760 million - in its five-year history. The company said it would ask the government for a $2.83 billion advance next year to help maintain Britain's deteriorating 20,000-mile system. Fatal crashes in each of the past three years have cost the company heavily in money and public confidence.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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