The Washington Star plans continued expansion efforts in regional and business coverage, and hopes to "create a little excitement" with its upcoming morning edition, Star editor Murray Gart said yesterday.

Addressing a Washington Press Club luncheon, Gart said he was hopeful recent gains in advertising and circulation would continue and said he was looking forward to "going head-to-head" with The Washington Post when the Star begins publishing a morning edition next month.

But, Gart pointed out, the move to the morning market "should not be misconstrued. The Washington Star is not going morning. We are an afternoon paper with a morning edition."

Gart said the Star's highly-promoted local editions had a "hasty start" last year and were in a "shakedown period," but said they were becoming "lively" and were "coming around."

Gart said local advertising "has improved greatly," because of the zoned local daily editions, and said circulation had increased about 6 percent during the past year to 344,000 daily. He said the Star had hit a circulation low of between 300,000 and 310,000 last December.

The Star continues to lose large amounts of money, Gart said. "We are losing right on schedule," he said, adding that Time Inc., the new owner of the Star still expected to be making money on the paper within about five years.

Gart said he didn't have to worry about the losses because Time Inc. had made a "long-term commitment."