The index of leading economic indicators fell 0.2 percent in April -- due in large measure to the third straight monthly drop in building permits.

New construction contracts declined 6 percent in April, reaching a four-year low and resuming a slide that began late last year, the F.W. Dodge division of McGraw-Hill reported.

The Treasury sold $6 billion each in 20-day and 111-day cash management bills. The average discount rate on 20-day bills was 7.93 percent while the average rate on the 111-day bills was 7.78 percent. The actual return to investors is 8.08 percent on a 20-day bill and 8.08 percent for a 111-day bill.

Money market mutual funds were unchanged in the latest reporting week for both seven- and 30-day average yields at 7.68 percent for both.


Martin Marietta plans to launch of another communications satellite for Intelsat on June 21 using a commercial Titan rocket. Earlier this year, a Titan launch failed and stranded a similar Intelsat VI series satellite in a useless orbit.

Pepco's sale of a new series of preferred stock netted the utility $45.25 million, which Pepco will use to fund construction and to refund short-term and long-term debt.

Jordache agreed to give back its half-interest in Guess in an out-of-court settlement after a four-month trial and during a jury's third day of deliberations, in return for an undisclosed share of $106 million in Guess profits set aside in a frozen account.

Walt Disney Co. said Muscovites gobbled up all 200,000 Russian-language Mickey Mouse comics magazines the first day of release. The 32-page magazine, designed as the first in a quarterly series, was released May 16 and sold for 1.5 rubles a copy -- about $2.40.

Honda announced a $27 million expansion of its research and development operations in Ohio.

Kemper Corp. will restructure its brokerage operations to eliminate 600 jobs, or 12 percent of its work force, and increase the number of shares to be bought under its repurchase program.

Ames Department Stores will pay $1.2 million in vacation and severence pay to 6,500 employees who left the discount retailer before it filed for bankruptcy protection in April.

Greyhound Lines said it will rebuild its fleet of 3,949 buses instead of buying new models.


The SEC said a federal judge ordered Thomas James Associates, its former president and a member of the firm's board to pay back $1.5 million in connection with four initial public offerings underwritten by the firm. An SEC complaint charged the company with using high-pressure sales techniques to create an artificially high demand for the stocks.

Delaware approved legislation that makes it the first state to allow banks to sell and underwrite insurance nationwide.


First Maryland Corp. has sent another letter to the officers and directors of Baltimore Bancorp, company officials said, but they would not say whether it contained another purchase offer for the banking company. Baltimore Bancorp's directors unanimously rejected First Maryland's $217 million offer two weeks ago.

Centaur Partners Group, the Washington investor group seeking control of National Intergroup Inc., said it was "disappointed" by the Pittsburgh manufacturer's decision to reduce its board of directors from 12 to 10 members despite a vote that showed 52 percent of its shareholders favored increasing the board's size. The group also criticized the company's decision not to replace two outside directors who are retiring.

SmithKline Beecham announced the sale of its Margaret Astor and Lancaster cosmetics businesses to Joh. A-Benckiser GmbH of West Germany.

Aetna, which had announced it would pull out of Pennsylvania's car-insurance market because of a new state law requiring premium cuts of at least 10 percent for all drivers, has suspended its departure pending the outcome of a rate case before the state Insurance Department.


Barclays Bank will acquire Marine Midland's international private banking unit. Terms were not disclosed.

The SEC announced the appointment of a 25-member advisory committee to help foreign governments establish their own stock markets.

The Commerce Department will represent the United States in discussions with the EC and Japan about international ''intelligent manufacturing'' systems, which integrate people, machines and computers in the manufacturing process to improve efficiency and create greater flexibility.


McDonnell Douglas received a $269 million Navy contract for F-A-18 aircraft.

Lockheed won a $56 million contract for Air Force satellite launch services and Navy aircraft modifications.


Richard Ravitch, former chairman of New York State's Urban Development Corp. in the 1970s and Metropolitan Transportation Authority in the 1980s, and an unsuccessful candidate for mayor, will become a general partner June 1 of the Blackstone Group, an equity financing firm.