The late ticker

BT hopeful

US federal regulators are expected to allow BT to complete its $22.3bn purchase of MCI after clarifying merger guidelines on Thursday when they approved the Bell Atlantic purchase of Nynex Corp. Approval is expected by the end of the month.

Smokers to pay

RJ Reynolds Tobacco has failed to persuade President Clinton's top economists that raising the cost of the historic $368.5bn tobacco litigation settlement would hobble the company. White House officials believe that while industry profit margins may narrow, cigarette makers will be able to shift the bulk of the expense of the settlement to smokers through price rises.

Mince health scare

Hudson Foods, one of the largest meat and poultry producers in the US, has recalled more than 1.2 million pounds of minced beef suspected of harbouring E. coli bacteria. Wal-Mart Stores, Safeways and Burger King have removed all suspect meat from stores and restaurants. An investigation is under way into why Hudson Foods took more than three days to reveal the extent of the problem.