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Six Big Airlines to Pool Buying Power Through Internet

THE WASHINGTON POST

Six of the world’s biggest airlines announced Thursday that they are pooling their estimated $32 billion a year in global buying power to buy supplies ranging from paper clips to airplane parts through an Internet company they will establish.

With the announcement, the airlines join a growing number of industries that have decided to use business-to-business e-commerce to help hold down supplier costs.

The six airlines are Delta, United, American, Continental, Air France and British Airways. United, American and Delta are the three largest carriers in the United States.

Pat Wildenburg, the head of purchasing at Delta, said the airlines hope to get the as-yet-unnamed purchasing company in operation within six months.

Since the start of the year, General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler announced they were forming a similar Internet company to deal with their suppliers, and Sears, Roebuck and France’s Carrefour have joined in a similar arrangement.

Euro Plunges Against Dollar

THE WASHINGTON POST -- PARIS

The euro plunged to a new low against the dollar Thursday after the European Central Bank raised interest rates, a move that normally makes currencies go up.

The decline that occurred instead was a sign the central bank is losing credibility among international investors, analysts said.

It was a disastrous day for the euro, the 16-month-old joint currency of 11 European nations, and for the central bankers who govern it. The euro was worth $1.17 when it was introduced on Jan. 1, 1999. It traded Thursday at as low as $.909 despite the central bank’s action.

The German mark, the most important currency in the euro union, has not been this low against the dollar for 14 years. The euro also is at record lows against the British pound -- Britain is not a euro member -- and the Japanese yen.

The euro “is beginning to approach historical extremes,” said Stefan Bergheim of Merrill Lynch in Frankfurt. “Unfortunately, currency markets can go on at extreme levels for quite a while.”

The euro’s decline is bad for Europe because it makes monetary authorities look powerless and because a weak currency means imported goods become more expensive, raising inflation.

Human Genome Information May Come From Elsewhere

NEWSDAY

Some of the revelations expected to come from the study of the human genome will emerge from learning how the rest of the world lives.

The non-human world, that is.

Using a technique called comparative genomics, researchers can use the genes in one organism, such as the mouse, to find and study the genes in another, such as the rat, the chimpanzee or even baker’s yeast, scientists say.

“What will be valuable about it is that the information” found in the genes “will be conserved across the 80 million years since divergence,” since the mouse and humans shared a common ancestor, said Dr. Leroy Hood. “It’s the Rosetta stone, the real key” to understanding animal relationships and the paths taken during evolution.

Hood, president of a new organization in Seattle called the Institute for Systems Biology, was involved in the founding, development and progress of the ongoing Human Genome Project. He said that other gene-chasing efforts, such as the mouse, rat and dog genome projects, are under way or soon will be.