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GERMANY

Inflation down in May for Europe’s biggest economy

BERLIN | An official estimate shows that the annual inflation rate in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, fell to 1.9 percent in May.

The preliminary year-on-year inflation rate reported Tuesday by the Federal Statistical Office compared with a 2.1 percent annual increase in consumer prices the previous month. Economists had expected it to stay unchanged.

The office said that prices were down 0.2 percent in month-on-month terms partly because it was the first time this year that fuel prices were lower than the previous month.

Inflation data from Germany are important to monetary policy decisions by the European Central Bank, which aims to keep inflation in the 17-nation eurozone just less than 2 percent. It has been running above target in recent months.

LOUISIANA

4 companies to pay $5M in settlement

NEW ORLEANS | Four FEMA contractors that installed or maintained government-issued trailers for storm victims after Hurricane Katrina have agreed to pay a total of $5 million to resolve claims that the temporary shelters exposed Gulf Coast residents to hazardous fumes.

The agreement is contained in a court filing Tuesday, but the documents don’t disclose how much would be paid individually by Shaw Environmental Inc., Bechtel Corp., Fluor Enterprises Inc. and CH2M Hill Constructors Inc., as well as the companies’ insurers.

The deal is linked to a proposed class-action settlement between plaintiffs’ attorneys and several companies that manufactured travel trailers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency following hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt is expected to hold a fairness hearing on the proposed settlement Sept. 27.

From wire dispatches and staff reports