NEW YORK (AP) _ Dow Jones & Co. is offering early retirement incentives to 340 veteran employees if they opt to leave by the end of the year.

The offer by the publisher of The Wall Street Journal and the magazines Barron's and SmartMoney is aimed at cutting costs and boosting profits.

Dow Jones employs about 8,500 people worldwide. The deadline for accepting the offer is Nov. 30.

Earlier this year, Dow Jones cut about 300 jobs at its Ottaway Newspapers division through a combination of attrition, buyouts and layoffs. The latest offer excludes Ottaway employees and also is not available to certain senior managers and its printers.

In May, Dow Jones sold its money-losing Dow Jones Markets financial information division to rival Bridge Information for $510 million. It also is expanding the Journal's U.S. edition.

According to Friday's announcement, Dow Jones is offering a year's salary and retiree health benefits to employees in the United States and Canada who will be 55 or older with at least 10 years service and leave by Dec. 31.

The eligible employees collectively make about $24.2 million a year, or an average of more than $71,000 each.

Dow Jones expects earnings will be reduced by the program in the current quarter but won't know how much until it learns how many employees accept it. The departures are expected to reduce costs starting in 1999.