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The rich got richer, the poor got poorer

September 29, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The rich got richer, the poor got poorer and the giant middle class did a bit better than treading water last year, according to the Census Bureau.

In a blizzard of figures Monday, the bureau also said that the percentage of people below the poverty line declined slightly from 1995 to 1996, and for black Americans the figure dipped to the lowest level since records were first kept in 1959.

The bureau also said that the earnings gap between men and women was the smallest ever, with women’s incomes rising and men’s declining after adjustment for inflation.

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Union Pacific, the nation’s largest railroad, plans put freight on a ship and send it through the Panama Canal because its own rail lines across the country are backed up.

Using a ship will more than double the normal six-day cross country trip, but the company has been desperate to relieve a backlog that has television sets, tennis shoes, clothing, paper goods and appliances in 3,000 containers the size of trucks sitting in the Los Angeles area.

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DALLAS (AP) _ Suiza Foods Corp. said it agreed to buy Morningstar Group Inc. for $744 million worth of stock to create the nation’s largest dairy company.

Morningstar makes Lactaid, a Lactose-free milk, and International Delight nondairy creamer. Suiza sells dairy products under the names of its dairies as well as store brands.

The combined company will have annual sales of more than $2 billion. That would surpass the $1.8 billion in annual sales on the dairy side of Dean Foods Co., analyst John Bierbusse of A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis said about the deal announced Monday.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Aetna Inc. stock tumbled again after the health insurer acknowledged third-quarter earnings will fall below Wall Street projections because of higher than expected medical costs.

Monday’s announcement, attributed to Aetna’s takeover of U.S. Healthcare last year, confirmed rumors of trouble that had sent the insurer’s stock sliding 9 percent last week.

The confirmation sent Aetna stock down $9.50, or 10.5 percent, to close at $81 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ Republic Industries Inc. said it will sell its security business to Ameritech Corp. for $610 million to focus on its stronger used-car and waste-hauling operations.

H. Wayne Huizenga, Republic’s chairman, said Monday he decided not to dedicate the time and money needed to build Republic Security Co. Holdings into an industry leader, even though it has been growing. The company mainly provides home security systems.

For Ameritech, the Chicago-based phone company, the deal boosts the number of customers for its SecurityLink from Ameritech business by 54 percent to nearly 900,000.

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DETROIT (AP) _ Chrysler Corp. will end its slow-selling Eagle brand of cars after the 1998 model year _ a move analysts have expected for months.

The No. 3 automaker on Monday said it sent a letter to all 2,340 U.S. Eagle dealers saying sales and service agreements will end effective Sept. 30, 1998.

The two-car line, which includes the Vision sedan and the Talon sports coupe, moved closer to extinction in June when Chrysler announced it would not advertise the brand nationally in the 1998 model year.

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Thousands of US Airways reservation, ticket and gate agents voted to unionize and seek their first-ever contract with the carrier. The airline said it would challenge the election.

Of the 8,772 passenger service employees eligible to vote in the mail-ballot election, 4,773 chose the Communication Workers of America, the union announced Monday. The move makes the agents the fifth _ and largest _ set of US Airways employees to unionize.

The election was held after the National Mediation Board ruled that the airline had interfered in the same election last year that the union lost. The airline said it is still challenging the board’s decision ordering a rerun, which resulted in the CWA victory Monday.

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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (AP) _ General Mills announced plans to close cereal plants in Illinois and Canada and scale back production at a California operation to reduce costs and excess capacity.

About 235 jobs will be eliminated when the company shuts down its two smallest plants _ in southern Chicago and Etobicoke, Ontario _ and a cereal production line at Lodi, Calif., the nation’s second largest cereal maker said Monday.

General Mills estimates the restructuring will save $22 million a year after taxes, or 14 cents a share, beginning in fiscal 1999. Wall Street reacted favorably, sending General Mills stock up $1.31 1/4 per share to close at $69.06 1/4 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The redesigned $50 bill will circulate starting Oct. 27, on schedule despite a tiny printing flaw that marred 30 million of the bills, the Treasury Department said.

The introduction follows the March 1996 debut of the redesigned $100 note. A new $20 bill is expected next year and smaller denominations after that.

The flawed notes are under seal and a determination about whether they can circulate will be made later. In the meantime, the Treasury Department said Monday that enough flawless notes will be delivered to Federal Reserve Banks around the country to begin distribution Oct. 27.

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By The Associated Press

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 69.25 to 7,991.43 after starting the day with a 28-point deficit.

The dollar was mixed, gold rose and bond prices fell.

Natural gas futures prices plunged to their lowest level in almost two weeks, soybean futures prices tumbled and silver futures prices jumped.

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