Business & Finance

The beleaguered airline industry will lose as much as $4 billion this year due to the high cost of fuel, despite efforts to cut operating expenses in other areas, its trade organization predicted Monday. The International Air Transport Association said its projection is only partly offset by an 18.7 percent jump in passenger traffic during the first eight months of the year.

With its demand for electricity and raw materials soaring, China agreed to a new $3.2 billion, 10-year deal to buy iron ore for its steel mills from Australian mining giant BHP Billiton, CBS MarketWatch reported. The parties already are operating under a $7 billion deal for ore, signed in March, and BHP Billiton also is among China's suppliers of liquefied natural gas. Meanwhile, a senior executive of China National Nuclear Corp. told that his government is considering Westinghouse Electric Co. of the US as well as Siemens AG of Germany and AREVA Group of France for an $8 billion contract to build four reactors beginning in 2007. China operates, or is building, 11 nuclear reactors but wants to more than double its capacity to generate electricity by 2020.

Harrah's Entertainment and Caesars Entertainment, which agreed to a $9.4 billion merger in July, announced Monday that they'll sell four casino/hotels to Colony Capital LLC of Los Angeles for $1.24 billion. The properties are in Atlantic City, N.J.; East Chicago, Ind.; and Tunica, Miss. Their disposal will allow Harrah's-Caesars to reduce debt and lessen antitrust concerns. Colony Capital, one of the few private real estate investment funds licensed in gaming, already has casino operations in Atlantic City as well as in Las Vegas, Europe, and Asia.

Citing competition from budget airlines, shipping giant P&O said it will lay off 1,200 employees and eliminate eight passenger ferries that serve France from ports in England and Ireland. The company said the measures should result in an annual saving of $100 million. P&O is perhaps better known for its Princess cruises business.

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