News In Brief

Productivity of US workers - a key measure of future prosperity - rose at a less-than-expected 2.4 percent annual rate during the first quarter, the Labor Department reported. The moderate growth, coupled with reports of rising labor costs, is likely to increase fear of inflation, which could prompt the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates again May 16.

Mexico's top financial group, Grupo Financiero Banamex-Accival (Banacci), launched a surprise offer to merge with the nation's No. 2 bank, Grupo Financiero Bancomer, which would create Latin America's largest financial institution. The offer - to inject $2.4 billion in new capital into the merged company - topped an earlier $1.2 billion bid by Spanish banking giant Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria. That proposal was agreed to in principle but has yet to be given the green light by regulators.

To slash costs, British utility Scottish Power Plc. said it aimed to cut about 1,600 jobs at US business PacifiCorp., an energy company it acquired last November. Scottish Power also announced goals of reducing annual operating costs at PacifiCorp by $300 million by the end of 2004 and cutting annual capital expenditure by $250 million. PacifiCorp is based in Portland, Ore.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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