Business & Finance

Four Chinese airline companies have agreed to buy 42 Boeing 787 jets for a total $5.04 billion, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Monday. China's flagship carrier Air China Ltd. and China Eastern Airlines Corp. will each buy 15 planes, Shanghai Airlines Co. will buy nine planes, and Xiamen Airline Co. will buy three, the report said. The purchase is seen as a coup for Boeing in its ongoing competition with archrival Airbus SAS. Both Boeing, which is based in Chicago, and Airbus, which is headquartered in Toulouse, France, have boosted sales efforts in China, where airlines have made a series of major aircraft purchases in recent years as they build up fleets to meet soaring demand.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest private employer, was scheduled to make its case Monday in San Francisco's 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals that the rules of class action suits should not apply in a lawsuit filed on behalf of 1.6 million former and current women employees. Wal-Mart denies any pattern of discrimination, saying its stores are like independent businesses with different management styles. The plaintiffs claim Wal-Mart systematically denied raises and promotions to women and paid them less than male employees. Wal-Mart's attorney has suggested that women who allege discrimination should file lawsuits against individual stores.

Kerr-McGee Corp., the Oklahoma City, Okla., oil and gas company, said Monday it is selling the majority of its North Sea oil assets for $2.95 billion to Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk and four other fields to Britain's Centrica PLC for $566 million. Kerr-McGee has been aggressively changing its business portfolio after coming under pressure from shareholders led by billionaire financier Carl Icahn, who charged that the company wasn't properly managed. The A.P Moller-Maersk group operates the world's biggest container shipping company Maersk-Sealand and a shipyard in Denmark, and holds the rights for oil and gas exploration in Denmark's North Sea continental shelf. Centrica is Britain's largest energy supplier.

The South Korean government backed away from pressuring a settlement in the worst strike in the country's history Sunday, expressing optimism that Asiana Airlines executives and striking pilots may yet be able to negotiate an end to a three-week-long walkout.

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