U.S. trade deficit with China falls

•WASHINGTON - The Chinese are engaged in a multibillion-dollar buying spree of all things American, from soybeans to Boeing jetliners, and the huge U.S. trade deficit with China dropped unexpectedly in February.

But the Bush administration said Wednesday that more trade concessions will be needed when President Hu Jintao visits Washington next week to quiet growing unrest in this country over a U.S. trade deficit with China that hit $202 billion last year.

That deficit, the highest ever for the U.S. with a single country, has led to demands in Congress for punitive tariffs against all Chinese products if Beijing does not do more to halt what critics see as the country's unfair trading practices.

The complaints include accusations that China has not done enough to deal with rampant piracy of copyright products.

Newspapers see decline in earnings

•Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today, reported an 11.5 percent decline in first-quarter earnings Wednesday as softer advertising and stock expenses weighed on results.

Also, Gannett's chairman said the company wasn't participating in the auction of 12 newspapers owned by Knight Ridder Inc. that are being sold by Knight Ridder's buyer, McClatchy Co. ''We're not involved,'' Douglas McCorkindale said in response to a question on a conference call.

Fosamax lawsuit filed against Merck

•NEW YORK - Merck & Co, which is already facing a raft of cases over its pain reliever Vioxx, may need to hire additional attorneys to fight a recently filed lawsuit alleging the company was negligent in promoting its osteoporosis drug Fosamax.

According to a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers, Fla., Fosamax is a defective product because it can cause osteonecrosis of the jaw, or a rotting of the jaw bone. The suit, which seeks class-action status, alleges that Merck concealed and continues to hide Fosamax's potentially dangerous side effects from patients and doctors.

- From wire reports