Business & Finance

With more favorable reports expected this week on key economic indicators, the US dollar was trading at its highest level against the euro in more than a year Monday. As markets neared their close in Europe, the exchange rate was $1.1904, a level not seen since May 2004. Trading ended last Friday in New York with the dollar at $1.1947. Among other data due out later in the week from the federal government are job growth and factory orders for June. Analysts also credited last week's ninth consecutive increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve with helping to push the dollar higher against other currencies.

CNOOC, the Chinese offshore oil company at the center of the bidding war for Unocal Corp., asked the US government for an expedited review of its $18.5 billion offer and said it was confident "we'll have no problems." Amid concerns in Congress about such a sale on strategic grounds, CNOOC also hired lobbyists with strong political connections to plead its case in Washington. But its window of opportunity is slowly closing. Unocal shareholders are scheduled to vote Aug. 10 on a $16.6 billion bid by American rival Chevron that already has the OK of Unocal's board. Meanwhile, industry analysts suggested a potential compromise that could prevent an escalation of the bidding. They said Chevron might find merit in agreeing to carve up Unocal, with CNOOC taking some of its natural gas assets in Southeast Asia. Under such a scenario, Chevron also could offer CNOOC some of its own stake in a liquefied natural gas project in Australia, they said.

Vodafone, the world's largest cellphone service provider, denied a published report that it is a leading contender for T-Mobile USA, a subsidiary of Germany's Deutsche Telekom. While Deutsche Telekom has not announced whether it will sell T-Mobile, The Observer (London) said Sunday that the unit could be offered for as much as $25 billion. By buying it, Vodafone would gain full control of a service provider in the lucrative US market for the first time. It owns only a minority stake in Verizon Wireless and tried unsuccessfully early last year to buy AT&T Wireless.

Hilton, the international hotel chain, announced it will sell 18 more properties, all of them in Britain and Ireland, for a hoped-for $703 million. Since February, the company has sold 11 hotels, worth $195 million.

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