News In Brief

US wholesale prices surged 1.0 percent last month, matching the 1.0 percent gain in February - the largest since October 1990. The jolt came from a huge 5.8 percent increase in energy prices, the sharpest rise in almost 10 years. The Labor Department's producer price index was more muted when volatile food and energy components were excluded, rising a slim 0.1 percent.

Some 5,800 Burger King outlets are dropping their account with food, paper products, and cleaning supplies distributor AmeriServe Inc., the latter announced. Ameri-Serve said the move will cost it one-third of its $6.2 billion in annual revenue. The Addison, Texas-based company, which filed for bankruptcy protection Jan. 31, also said it will lay off as many as 1,600 of its 6,000 employees.

Two of the three companies that planned to merge, forming the world's largest aluminum producer, said they'll go ahead with the arrangement. But the third, France's Pechiney Group, was to issue a statement indicating its intention to abandon the deal with Alcan Aluminum of Canada and the Algroup conglomerate of Switzerland. The companies reportedly couldn't agree on refiling their plans with the governing commission of the European Union, which had concerns about the effects of the merger on competition. With Pechiney out of the picture, the deal is valued at $4.1 billion. The merger plan was announced last Aug. 11.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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