News In Brief

The US trade deficit ballooned to a new record high, $25.2 billion, in July, the Commerce Department reported. The deficit grew by 2.4 percent, surpassing the June imbalance of $24.6 billion. Deficits with Japan, China, and Western Europe all set monthly records. The trade imbalance has climbed to new highs for seven straight months.

Negotiations for a $70 billion, combined mobile-phone network were successful, Bell Atlantic and Britain's Vodafone AirTouch Plc. announced. The companies said they would be able to serve 90 percent of the US population with a common digital technology, offering a stiff new challenge to AT&T and Sprint. If regulators and Vodafone's shareholders approve, the venture will be 55 percent owned by Bell Atlantic. The two confirmed Sept. 6 that they were discussing a partnership.

In a cost-cutting move, the giant marketing group Unilever announced plans to eliminate 1,200 of the almost 1,600 brands in its portfolio. The British/Dutch company said it also wants to boost sales growth, which has averaged a sluggish 2.3 percent a year for the past decade. Among Unilever's best-known products are Elizabeth Arden cosmetics, Vaseline, Birds Eye frozen foods, Promise margarine, Sure deodorant, and Pepsodent toothpaste.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.