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Loose Change

Here's yet another reason to love chocolate ice cream: It means you're creative and charming. At least that's what Edy's Grand Ice Cream is promoting, based on research at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Vanilla fans aren't really dull. They're impulsive risk takers. Are butter pecan fans nuts? They're "fiscally conservative" and ethical.

THEY'RE MOBILE, AND THEY'RE EVERYWHERE: A new World Bank report on the world's economic and social health notes that mobile phones are replacing fixed-line phones in developing nations, particularly where there are long waits for standard telephones. Singapore, for example, has 141 mobile phones per 1,000 people compared with 165 pocket phones per person in the United States.

WILL THAT BE GOLD OR NICKEL? Dentists are buying fewer palladium-based alloys for tooth repairs as the price of the precious metal surged to an 18-year high because of delays in shipments from Russia. Dentists will use more gold and even nickel for fillings, crowns and other dental work. Palladium is up more than 60 percent so far this year.

SOME DARING DEDUCTIONS: Now that tax day is over, the Internal Revenue Service can look for the most creative attempts at finding deductions. For instance, a sales clerk claimed $250 to have his trousers shortened to "avoid static electricity from carpets in his workplace." And one woman claimed the cost of hair dye because the boss liked her better as a blonde.

PASS THE PERRIER: Bottled-water sales increased 9.6 percent to $3.9 billion in the U.S. in 1997, tripling the growth of soft drinks as consumers turn to healthier beverages. The average consumer now drinks 12.7 gallons annually, according to Beverage Marketing Corp., a New York-based consulting firm.

_ Compiled from staff, wire reports