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BRIEFLY

RETAIL SALES HOT IN JULY: Retail sales at department stores and discount chains rose a better-than-expected 4.5 percent in July, hot on the heels of big gains in May and June. The big winners in July were discount chains such as Wal-Mart, which said sales from stores open at least a year rose 9.6 percent over the same month last year. Also faring well were specialty clothing chains and stores offering consumer electronics and jewelry. Some retailers, namely Gap Inc., disappointed analysts with lackluster same-store sales.

POLO RALPH LAUREN WINS TRADEMARK CASE: Polo Ralph Lauren has won a trademark infringement lawsuit against Westchester Media Co., publisher of Polo Magazine. A federal judge on Wednesday gave Westchester 90 days to stop using the Polo name, saying the magazine would cause consumer confusion with the clothing, fragrance and home furnishings designer.

DISNEY PROTEST IN HONG KONG: Waving drawings of Mickey Mouse with dollar signs in his eyes, activists in Hong Kong protested at a Disney children's show against alleged abusive labor conditions in factories producing Disney products. As families lined up to watch Mickey's Magical Tour and buy merchandise from the sponsor, Disney Consumer Products, seven members of the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee protested outside the Hong Kong Convention Center. The group accused Disney of failing to monitor health violations by the factories that produce its goods in China, Macau and Vietnam, and of owing workers pay or paying them a fraction of promised salaries.

BIDDERS JOCKEY FOR DRUGS.COM NAME: What's in a name? At least $270,000 so far, and maybe more than $1-million if the name is Drugs.com. Eric MacIver, a 21-year-old Internet entrepreneur in Mesa, Ariz., stands to reap the windfall from drug companies' bidding for rights to the Internet domain name to which he owns the exclusive rights. The highest confirmed bid was $270,000, but several large drug companies and speculators have expressed an interest in bidding before the auction closes tonight, MacIver said.

CKE HEAD TO STEP DOWN: CKE Restaurants Inc. said president Tom Thompson will become chief executive as William Foley II steps down to devote more time to his duties as Fidelity National Financial Inc.'s chairman and chief executive. Thompson is expected to assume the CEO job in the first quarter of 2000. Foley will remain CKE's chairman. CKE is majority shareholder in Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc. in Clearwater.

AOL TO OFFER LATE TRADING SECTION: America Online will feature a new section devoted to after-hours stock trading, inviting the Web's biggest mainstream audience into a market dominated by elite investors. The new service, scheduled to start in November, will provide AOL's 17-million subscribers with stock quotes and related information on the often volatile dealings that take place outside regular hours on traditional markets such as the New York Stock Exchange.

Earnings

UnitedHealth Group

The No. 2 U.S. health insurer took a hit in the second quarter ended June 30 from rising interest expenses from the funds it borrowed to buy back shares. However, analysts said the Minneapolis company's health-insurance business rebounded as it left some regions and raised premiums. Last year's results reflect the impact of $900-million in special charges.

2ndQtr Year Ago

Revenue $4.86-bil $4.24-bil

Net Income $135-mil -$565-mil

Per Share 76 cents -$2.96

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