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MEXICO SLICES DEBT: Mexico marked a major step toward restored economic health by announcing the early repayment of $7-billion borrowed from the United States during the height of its financial crisis last year. Thursday's move will slash the total amount of the original $20-billion U.S. bailout package to only $3.5-billion and deflates a nagging political problem for President Clinton, who had been widely criticized for loaning the money to Mexico in the first place. The Treasury Secretariat said the large early payment would be made possible by an international bond sale, which has won a quality rating by credit-market analysts.

CONTINENTAL UPS PLANE ORDER: Continental Airlines increased the number of planes it expects to buy from Boeing Co. as part of a plan to expand service and cut the age of its fleet. The fifth-largest U.S. airline said it will buy 61 jetliners valued at $4-billion, changing an order placed in May 1993 for 43 planes. The order comes just three days after Continental reported its highest quarterly profit ever.

DIGITAL TV GETS NOD: Television got a boost into a new era that promises extra-sharp pictures and crystal clear sound when federal regulators accepted a proposal Thursday to give broadcasters extra channels they'll need for the digital service. The Federal Communications Commission's unanimous decision begins the painstaking process of allocating a chunk of the public airwaves for digital TV _ the biggest innovation since color picture tubes in the 1950s. The FCC proposed to match up each of 1,600 TV stations, which now use analog channels, with a digital channel.


OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE INC.: The Tampa-based restaurant chain reported that net income for the second quarter ended June 30 was $18.2-million, or 37 cents per share, compared with $14.3-million, or 30 cents per share, for the same period in 1995. Outback CEO Chris Sullivan said the chain opened 17 Outback Steakhouse restaurants and four Carrabba's Italian Grills during the quarter, bringing the new-restaurant total to 40 this year. However, comparable store sales declined by 0.6 percent during the quarter.

TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH CORP.: The Clearwater electronics company reported net income of $71,000 for the first quarter, or 1 cent per share, compared with $629,856 or 12 cents per share for the comparable period. Chairman and CEO Robert S. Wiggins cited lower revenues due to falling commercial and military sales and lower royalty income.

HEALTHPLAN SERVICES CORP.: The Tampa provider of managed care services said it earned $3.44-million, or 26 cents a share, in its second quarter compared with $2.07-million, or 20 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

WALT DISNEY CO.: Strong theme-park attendance and a few hit films boosted third-quarter earnings 28 percent, the entertainment company said Thursday. Disney earned $406-million, or 59 cents a share, compared with $318-million, or 60 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. The number of shares outstanding rose sharply in the 1996 quarter. Revenue rose to $5.09-billion from $2.77-billion.

XEROX CORP.: The Stamford, Conn., document processing company reported a 23 percent jump in second-quarter profit. Xerox earned $293-million, or 85 cents per share, compared with $238-million, or 69 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. The year-ago quarter results include a $16-million loss from discontinued insurance operations. Revenue was $4.22-billion, up 4 percent from $4.05-billion a year ago.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: The Dallas-based airline said its profits for the second quarter were up 43 percent. For the three months that ended June 30, the lost-cost carrier earned $85.3-million, or 56 cents a share, compared with $59.7-million, or 41 cents per share, for the same year-ago period. Southwest's $25 anniversary fare sale was not reflected in the second-quarter results.



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