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BUSINESS TODAY

WHOLESALE INVENTORIES FALL: U.S. wholesale inventories fell in May for a second month, a Commerce Department report showed. A strengthening of demand with fewer goods on hand may spark a rise in production and help lift the economy later this year, economists said. The 0.3 percent decrease for the month to $289.3-billion matched April's decline and reflected fewer supplies of automobiles, machinery and electrical equipment, the Commerce Department said in Washington. May wholesale sales fell 0.5 percent after dropping 2.5 percent.

ATA CUTS SAN FRANCISCO: Travelers soon won't be able to fly from the Tampa Bay area to San Francisco without stopping in another city. Low-fare carrier ATA began nonstop flights from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport to San Francisco in February. But the airline said Wednesday it will stop the flights in September, citing weak bookings and low revenue. ATA is continuing nonstop flights launched this year from St. Petersburg-Clearwater to Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

FEDS SUBPOENA TENET: Tenet Healthcare Corp., the second-biggest U.S. hospital chain, said the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the company's Medicare billing and financial disclosures back to 1997. The SEC issued subpoenas for documents, elevating a previously announced inquiry into trading of Tenet shares to a formal probe, company spokesman Harry Anderson said. The U.S. Justice Department is also looking at payments made to Tenet by Medicare.

TOBACCO MERGER DISCUSSED: R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc., the nation's second-largest tobacco company, and smaller rival Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. have held talks about merging their U.S. operations, the Wall Street Journal reported, quoting people familiar with the talks. The discussions have occurred in fits and starts and a deal appears far from imminent, the paper said. R.J. Reynolds shares were down $1.03 to close at $37.10 on the New York Stock Exchange while U.S. shares of Brown & Williamson parent British American Tobacco PLC slipped 14 cents to $21.60 on the American Stock Exchange.

AT&T PLANS WI-FI: AT&T Corp. plans to offer wireless Internet access in more than 2,000 locations in the fourth quarter using software from GRIC Communications Inc. The wireless fidelity, or Wi-Fi, access points will allow travelers to connect portable computers to company data networks at hotels, airports and convention centers in 20 countries. AT&T Chief Executive David Dorman said last month that AT&T would pepper the 50 largest U.S. cities with 20,000 Wi-Fi "hot-spots" by 2005.

BONDS AT RECORD LOW: Yields on the U.S. Treasury's 10-year inflation-indexed notes fell to the lowest ever at the government's auction of the securities. The Treasury sold a record $11-billion of the notes at a yield of 1.999 percent, down from 2.340 percent at the last auction Jan. 8. That was the lowest yield since the securities were introduced in 1997.

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