Existing homes sales rose 2.1 percent in August, continuing an upward trend that began in June, the National Association of Realtors reported. The group said home resales totaled a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.40 million units compared with July's revised 3.33 million rate.

Sales of U.S.-made cars dropped 5.6 percent in mid-September compared with the same period last year, when automakers were offering big incentives because of large inventories, the companies said.


Carla Hills, the U.S. trade representative, has asked the EC for "clarification and information" as soon as possible about Airbus Industrie's $500 million loan to Northwest Airlines. Hills, who believes the loan was an unfair inducement to get Northwest to buy 75 Airbus jets, finds the case "particularly disturbing," a spokeswoman said.

Geico's senior debt rating was upgraded to double-A from double-A-minus, Standard & Poor's said.

Chase Manhattan's long-term debt and commercial paper were downgraded by Moody's Investors Service.

Second National Federal Savings Bank of Salisbury suspended its quarterly dividend and boosted its loan-loss reserves after the Office of Thrift Supervision finished part of its look at the thrift's books. The S&L said that its nonperforming assets -- loans on which no interest is being paid -- rose to $62 million from $30 million on March 31 because of the deteriorating real estate market.

Southland, parent of the 7-Eleven chain, will extend the exchange offer for its bonds for the fourth time, company sources said. Analysts said the offer, which had been scheduled to end at midnight last night, is a key part of Southland's efforts to be acquired by a Japanese company and avoid having to file for bankruptcy protection.

Paramount Communications raised its offer for the 17 percent of TVX Broadcast Group of Virginia Beach stock it does not own from $7.50 to $9.50 a share, and the TVX board of directors agreed.

Fuji Photo Film said it will replace the plastic canisters in which its film is sold in the U.S. with paper ones as an environmental measure.

Du Pont and American National Can will cooperate in developing programs to recycle syrup and ketchup bottles and other types of rigid plastic materials not now being widely recycled.

INTERNATIONAL Kobe Steel and Alcoa agreed to set up a joint venture in Japan to produce and market aluminum sheet for beverage cans. The plan will give Alcoa better access to the Japanese market and provide Kobe with a steady source of aluminum ingot.

Condor Flugdienst, Lufthansa's charter subsidiary, placed a $1.3 billion order with Boeing for 17 aircraft.

Schering-Plough's board of directors authorized the repurchase of up to $1 billion of its common stock.

REGULATION Shearson agreed to pay the Commodity Futures Trading Commission a $220,000 civil penalty to settle a complaint charging the firm with violations in connection with trading in frozen orange juice futures, the commission said. Shearson neither admitted to nor denied the charges.

Missouri and Kansas announced an antitrust settlement in a $1 billion natural gas price-fixing case. Details of the settlement with Amoco Production, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, were not released.

PEOPLE Norton Co.'s president and chief executive officer, John M. Nelson, has been forced from his job less than a week after a French conglomerate completed a $1.95 billion takeover of the abrasives firm.

Mobil Vice Chairman Richard F. Tucker will retire May 1 at the age of 64. Before leaving, the Fairfax-based oil giant said, Tucker will lead a review of Mobil's business environment, including "major changes that will influence Mobil's future direction," such as the Mideast crisis and environmental concerns. ODD LOTS A Virginia Beach man was convicted in a federal court in Norfolk of satellite interference after he interrupted a Playboy Channel transmission in 1987. The man, an employee of the Christian Broadcasting Network, used CBN's facilities to send Biblical messages to Playboy Channel viewers, including "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Fort Lee near Petersburg, Va., has been designated as headquarters of the new Defense Commissary Agency.