Today's highlights* As Japan's finance officials struggle...


Today's highlights

* As Japan's finance officials struggle to bolster the country's ailing markets, millions of individual investors continue to suffer financial hardships and harbor a deep distrust of that country's key institutions. Page 11D

* A group led by former Continental Airlines Chief Executive Hollis Harris yesterday became the latest to enter the bidding war for the troubled carrier, with an offer of $400 million for a controlling stake. Page 11D

Americans are pouring money into mutual funds that invest in bonds at a near-record pace. Page 11D

Stock market opens mixed

The New York stock market was mixed today as traders kept a cautious eye on the dollar in foreign exchange.

The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials slipped 1.89 points to 3,252.75 in the first half hour of trading. Gainers outpaced losers by about 10 to 9 in the early tally of New York Stock Exchange-listed issues, with 551 up, 494 down and 666 unchanged. Volume on the Big Board came to 186.10 million shares as of 10 a.m. on Wall Street.

The dollar declined slightly in currency-market activity today. Nevertheless, it held in the range where it has stabilized in the past few sessions after taking a sharp drop. Analysts said stock traders appeared reluctant to make big commitments until they could see if the possibility of a dollar crisis has indeed been averted.

Hearing set on Blues' rates

Maryland Insurance Commissioner John A. Donaho said yesterday that he has scheduled a public hearing for 10 a.m. Sept. 11 on a request from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland to raise its health insurance rates between 8.8 percent and 15.1 percent for several plans covering individuals. About 32,000 policyholders under the age of 65 would be affected. The hearing is scheduled for Room 15 in the Department of Licensing and Regulation building at 501 St. Paul Place in Baltimore.

PR firm gets new D.C. chief

Hill and Knowlton, one of Washington's most powerful public relations firms, appointed a new manager of its Washington office yesterday in the wake of negative publicity concerning its international lobbying efforts.

Howard Paster, executive vice president of the Washington lobbying firm Timmons and Co., has been named Hill and Knowlton's chairman of public affairs and the general manager of its Washington office, the company confirmed yesterday.

Cool weather hits utilities hard

The unusually cool summer has hit local utilities so hard that analysts are lowering their earnings estimates by 5 percent.

Amy Caplan Stern, an analyst for Legg Mason, says 12 Midwestern and mid-Atlantic utilities, including Baltimore Gas and Electric, Delmarva Power & Light and Potomac Electric Power, have been affected by the temperate summer. The new per-share estimates for the three local companies' third-quarter earnings are $1.65 for BG&E;, $1.65 for Delmarva and $1.80 for Pepco.

Developer files for Chapter 11

Baltimore real estate developer Michael Silver filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code this week, listing assets of $51,000 and liabilities of $567,049.

Mr. Silver at one time had planned to build a shopping mall at the east end of the Inner Harbor.


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