Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Monday, January 4, 1999

U.S. manufacturers had slow December

NEW YORK -- Manufacturing activity slowed in December for the seventh straight month, declining at a faster rate than economists had expected, as global economic problems continued to hinder exports.

The National Association of Purchasing Management reported today its monthly index of business activity fell to 45.1 percent last month -- its lowest level since May 1991. Economists had predicted the index would rise slightly from its November level of 46.8 percent.

Any reading under 50 percent is a sign of contraction in the industrial sector.

The private group's report, compiled from a survey of corporate purchasing executives nationwide, is widely followed by economists because it is usually the first indicator of how the economy performed in the previous month.

Bell, AirTouch confirm talks

NEW YORK -- Bell Atlantic Corp. and AirTouch Communications Inc. confirmed they are holding talks relating to a possible business combination.

AirTouch, the nation's second-largest cellular phone company, said that "significant issues still remain unresolved," and that its board of directors had not approved a transaction. It did not elaborate further.

In statements released late yesterday, both companies said that no further comment would be made by either company until an agreement had been reached or discussions were terminated.

Last Thursday cable news channel CNBC, citing sources close to the talks, said that Bell Atlantic was negotiating a $45 billion takeover of AirTouch.

In other news . . .

n PALO ALTO, Calif. -- E*Trade Group Inc., the high-flying, online-brokerage firm, said it will split its shares 2-for-1. The stock split will double the number of diluted shares to 95.8 million, but halve their value. The new shares will be issued Jan. 29 to shareholders of record as of Jan. 15.





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