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In anticipation of joining the World Trade Organization, China moved to prepare its stock markets for increased foreign competition by announcing that foreign firms will be allowed to sell shares in China - to both domestic and international investors. The change opens the way for foreign companies to raise capital on fledgling stock markets in Shangai and Shenzhen. Beijing also plans to dramatically cut the number of goods and services subject to government price controls beginning Aug. 1.

Japanese auto giant Toyota Motor Corp. agreed on a $1.28 billion 50-50 joint venture with French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen to make small, fuel-efficient cars for the European market. Production is set to start in 2005, and the companies hope to produce 300,000 cars a year.

General Electric chairman Jack Welch said he will retire Sept. 7. His successor is president and chairman-elect Jeffrey Immelt. Welch's hands-on leadership is credited with taking GE from a light-bulb company to an international empire ranging from jet engines to the NBC-TV network. At $440 billion, GE is the world's largest company.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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