MARKETS

The New York Stock Exchange approved implementation of two phases of a plan to develop off-hours trading.

ECONOMY

The current account deficit, the country's broadest measure of foreign trade, rose 0.8 percent in the April-June quarter to $21.84 billion, but it was still the second-best showing in six years, the government reported.

COMPANIES

Conoco is boosting its domestic exploration budget by $10 million, making it the first major energy company to respond to the rise in crude oil prices with increased spending.

MNC Financial, parent of American Security, Equitable and Maryland National banks, declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of 29 cents a share, easing fears that the troubled bank company would withhold the payout to boost its capital position.

Compaq Computer reduced retail prices by up to 20 percent on many of its desktop personal computers.

Lazard Freres & Co. was retained by the U.S. Postal Service to advise it on financing. Lockheed said it won't allow Texas investor Harold C. Simmons to appeal in person to its board for elimination of Lockheed's "poison pill" anti-takeover provision. The provision entitles Lockheed to sell stock to current shareholders at a discount if a hostile buyer accumulates 20 percent or more of the company's shares.

Wheeling-Pittsburgh workers represented by the United Steelworkers union overwhelmingly approved a new contract, clearing a major hurdle in the company's effort to reorganize. The pact affects 5,500 union workers in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Swiss Bank Corp. has given Philadelphia a vote of confidence in its search for backers for $375 million in loans needed to stave off bankruptcy. The Swiss bank agreed to guarantee $50 million worth of the notes.

COURTS Federated Department Stores and Allied Stores had their deadline to come up with a plan for emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization extended from today until Feb. 28 by a bankruptcy court judge. The New York Stock Exchange asked a federal bankruptcy judge for permission to begin disciplinary proceedings against Drexel Burnham Lambert that could lead to fines of up to $50 million.

ACQUISITIONS

MCI Communications bought part of Xerox's business in "voice mail," the sending and receiving of recorded messages over telephone lines. Terms of the purchase, by MCI subsidiary Async Corp., were not disclosed.

INTERNATIONAL Texaco signed an agreement with the Soviets for a study of the feasibility of a joint development of oil and natural-gas fields.

Overseas Telecommunications of Alexandria has teamed with Citicorp to open private data and voice lines by satellite to Paraguay, Brazil and Colombia.

Motorola signed an agreement in principle with Siemens of West Germany for the cross-licensing of patents for cellular mobile phone systems.

CONTRACTS

Litton won a $202 million Navy contract for tactical air operations control equipment.

National Apparel won a $27 million Defense Logistics Agency contract for chemical protective suits.

PEOPLE

Donald Trump is planning to offer equity in his Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort to bond holders in exchange for delaying payments due in November.

James Jones, chairman of the American Stock Exchange, predicted competitive pressures and rising costs will force most regional exchanges to consolidate with the larger exchanges in the next few years.

Jerome Powell, President Bush's nominee to be assistant Treasury secretary for domestic finance, told senators that government-sponsored enterprises should be required to be strongly capitalized and to submit to effective and appropriate federal supervision. William I. Campbell was named president and chief executive of Philip Morris USA, the domestic tobacco unit of the food and tobacco company.