News In Brief

The US trade deficit hit a new record of $25.9 billion in October, with petroleum imports a major contributor, the Commerce Department reported. Deficits with Japan and China were at record levels. Imports climbed 1.6 percent to an all-time high of $107.9 billion. Exports fell 0.1 percent to $81.9 billion. Through the first 10 months of this year, the trade deficit is running at an annual rate of $262 billion, far exceeding last year's record deficit of $164.3 billion.

To try to give a former state-owned monopoly stiffer competition, three Japanese telephone companies announced a merger that will give them combined estimated annual revenues of about $20 billion. But while the new DDI Corp., whose partners will be IDO Corp. and KDD Corp., will become Japan's second-largest telecommunications enterprise, it still will be more than $70 billion a year behind the giant Nippon Telephone & Telegraph. The latter controls 95 percent of Japan's local-call market and more than 50 percent of cell-phone business.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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