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Markets

DOW FALLS IN SLOW SESSION: Stocks retreated Monday in the slowest session of the year as investors waited for a series of key economic readings that could jolt the market. It was the first time in two weeks that the blue-chip barometer didn't trigger curbs on computer-driven trading, limits that are imposed by a 50-point swing.

TREASURY YIELDS RISE: Interest rates on short-term Treasury securities rose in Monday's auction. The Treasury Department sold $13-billion in three-month bills at an average discount rate of 5.20 percent, up from 5.14 percent last week. Another $13.2-billion was sold in six-month bills at an average rate of 5.34 percent, up from 5.30 percent. The new discount rates understate the actual return to investors _ 5.34 percent for three-month bills and 5.57 percent for a six-month bill. In a separate report, the Federal Reserve said Monday that the average yield for one-year Treasury bills rose to 5.85 percent last week from 5.80 percent the previous week.

Nation

U.S. COMPANIES MERGER TARGETS: U.S. companies remained the world's No. 1 target for mergers in the year's first half despite a modest slowdown that more closely followed the trend in emerging nations, a KPMG Peat Marwick study says. It found the pace of cross-border acquisitions picked up in developed nations but shrank in emerging markets during the six-month period. Overall, international deals fell 6 percent to a total value of $110-billion.

THRIFTS TO MERGE: Cal Fed Bancorp agreed to be acquired by First Nationwide Holdings Inc., billionaire Ronald Perelman's thrift holding company, in a nearly all-cash deal worth more than $1.2-billion. The deal announced Monday will create the nation's fourth-largest savings and loan with about $30-billion in assets and 235 retail branches. The merged company will be based in San Francisco.

DELAY SOUGHT ON NASDAQ RULES: Some of Nasdaq's biggest dealers are urging Congress to delay rules that would dramatically change trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, claiming the proposals would erode their profits and force small dealers out of the market. The firms, led by Herzog, Heine, Geduld Inc., contend the Securities and Exchange Commission hasn't made a detailed economic study of the rules. The SEC declined comment Monday.

RETAILER SEEKS PROTECTION: Ben Franklin Retail Stores Inc., where the late Sam Walton honed his merchandising skills, has sought bankruptcy court protection from its creditors. The chain, which shifted eight years ago from a five-and-dime to arts and crafts supplies, cited a fiercely competitive retail environment when it filed for Chapter 11 protection in Chicago. The company has about 930 stores in 49 states.

Tampa Bay/State

CITRUS AGENCY HIRES FIRM: The Florida Department of Citrus announced Monday that the Richards Group of Dallas will take over as advertising agency for its $34-million Florida orange juice account. The Lakeland-based Citrus Department parted ways with New York ad agency Ammirati Puris Lintas after five months, citing creative differences.

SHIP LEAVES TAMPA: The Regent Rainbow cruise ship, which sat moored at the Port of Tampa since October, was towed to the Bahamas a week ago. The ship, which is owned by the bankrupt Regency Cruises, will wait there for a court to decide its fate, said Tampa port spokeswoman Val Pastore. The cruise line abruptly closed down last fall, leaving thousands of vacationers around the world, including Tampa, temporarily stranded. The cruise line paid its bills with the Port of Tampa before the ship left.

Correction

About 500 members of the Association of Flight Attendants union marched on the Georgia state capital in June to draw attention to their concerns about ValuJet's safety and what they called abuse of employees. Only a few of them were ValuJet employees. An Associated Press story July 24 incorrectly described the marchers.

DOW DOLLAR YIELD

30 industrials vs. Japanese yen 30-year U.S. bond

5434.59 108.14 7.09

-38.47 -0.23 +0.08

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