Business & Finance

Boeing has won a $2 billion order to build up to 30 737-model jets from the commission that OKs purchasing for China's state-owned airlines, the financial news service reported. The carriers are Air China, Shandong Airlines Co., and Xiamen Airlines Co. Citing sources at Boeing, the world's largest aircraft builder, said the deal may be confirmed when Chinese Premier Wen Jibao visits Washington later this month. Analysts see the deal as an effort by China to help narrow its massive $130 billion trade imbalance with the US, the news agency said.

Gillette reported $2.4 billion in sales, an 11 percent rise, in the third quarter thanks largely to strong demand for its Duracell batteries during hurricane Isabel and the massive mid-August electricity blackout in the Northeast and upper Midwest. The news sent share prices at the Boston personal-care products company to their highest close on the New York Stock Exchange in more than a year, $34.15, Tuesday.

For the third time in a year, the government of France sold off a major chunk of one of the nation's most prestigious companies. Electronics giant Thomson SA said it had received formal notification of the $1.1 disposal of the government's remaining 52 million shares and was planning to buy 3 million of them itself. The government also has sold pieces of the bank Crédit Lyonnais, automaker Renault, and engineering conglomerate Dassault Systèmes over the past 12 months.

Kroger Co. and the union representing 4,000 of its employees at 58 Indiana supermarkets agreed to a one-week contract extension, a move that averts a strike, at least in the short term. The parties said they've agreed to resume negotiations at the request of a federal mediator. The old contract expired Wednesday. Healthcare costs are the main sticking point in bargaining for a new pact.

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