News In Brief

Pay and benefits for American workers rose again in the July-September quarter, but not by as much as economists expected, the Labor Department said. Its employment cost index, which is used by the Federal Reserve as a key indicator of inflation pressure, increased 0.8 percent. Analysts polled by the Reuters news agency had forecast an 0.9 gain. The index rose 1.1 percent in the second quarter. The Fed's Open Market Committee is scheduled to meet again Nov. 16 to decide whether interest rates should be raised a third time this year.

Aetna Inc. and Fidelity, giants of the insurance and mutual funds industries, respectively, won the OK of federal regulators to operate savings banks. The moves come as Congress edges toward a sweeping overhaul of Depression-era laws that separate financial-services industries. Among other nonbanking companies recently receiving such charters: Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Excel Communications. Similar applications are pending from Ford, General Motors, and mass retailers Wal-Mart and Nordstrom Inc.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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