News In Brief

US demand for machine tools fell in February, two industry groups reported. The American Machine Tool Distributors' Association and the Association for Manufacturing Technology estimated the demand at $341 million, down 2 percent from $348 million in January. Orders in the first two months of 1999 were estimated at $688.6 million, down 48 percent from the same period in 1998, the report said. Economists consider demand for machine tools a leading indicator of the pace of manufacturing.

A chain of 1,900 brake, exhaust, and tire-repair outlets across Europe will be bought by Ford Motor Co., the automaker announced in London. The $1.6 billion purchase of Kwik-Fit PLC is designed to bring Ford nearer to becoming what a senior executive called the world's leading company for cars, automotive products, and service. Kwik-Fit, which also sells insurance, will continue to operate as a separate company and will keep its headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Ford announcement said.

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