Compiled from Times wires
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TRADE DEFICT NARROWS: The U.S. trade deficit shrank in the second quarter to its lowest level in more than a year. The Commerce Department reported that the deficit in the current account narrowed to $106.5-billion in the April-June quarter, a 4.7 percent drop from the first three months of this year. The current account is considered the best measurement of a country's international economic standing because it measures not just the goods and services reflected in the government's monthly trade reports, but also investment flows between countries and unilateral transfers, including U.S. foreign aid payments.
GE, HONEYWELL APPEAL EC RULING: General Electric Co. and Honeywell International Inc. lodged appeals to overturn the European Commission's rejection of their proposed merger. A decision on the appeal could take years, so even a successful appeal would be too late for the merger to go forward, a GE spokesman said. GE wants to refute the commission's finding that the company has a dominant position in the jet engine market. That ruling, if allowed to stand, could make it difficult for GE to make future acquisitions.
PIRACY CHARGES SETTLED: Two bay area companies have paid $208,500 to settle software piracy claims with the Business Software Alliance. Davel Communications, a pay-phone company in Tampa, agreed to a $123,500 settlement for using more copies of Microsoft and Symantec programs on its computers than it had licenses for, according to the alliance. Ace Beauty Co. in Largo will pay $85,000 for improper use of Microsoft software. Both companies cooperated with the investigation, the alliance said. Ace declined to comment, and Davel officials could not be reached for comment.
BOFA LIFTS WITHDRAWAL LIMIT: Bank of America was back to business as usual Wednesday. The bank lifted a $5,000 limit on cash withdrawals that some of its branches had imposed after Tuesday's terrorist attacks.
MICROSOFT RENEWS APPEAL: Microsoft Corp. reiterated its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to require a new trial in its antitrust case. In a reply to Justice Department arguments, Microsoft said U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's discussions with reporters infected the entire case. Microsoft and the Justice Department are scheduled Friday to give U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who replaced Jackson, a joint proposal on procedures for handling the penalty phase of the case.
XEROX, GE CAPITAL ENTER PACT: GE Capital has agreed to take over Xerox Corp.'s U.S. equipment-financing business and give the copier company $1-billion in secured financing. Customer financing and administration operations will be run through a joint venture that will be 81 percent owned by GE Capital. Xerox said in October it would switch to third-party financing to reduce debt by as much as $11-billion as part of a plan to return to profitability by year-end. It leases 75 percent of the equipment it makes, and about 65 percent of the company's debt comes from its financing business.
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