ECONOMY Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits fell 17,000 to 435,000 in the week ended Nov. 24 from the level of a week earlier, the Labor Department said.

Money-market mutual fund assets rose by $1.02 billion to $424.89 billion in the week ended Wednesday, according to the Investment Company Institute, a research arm of the U. S. mutual fund industry.

Leading industrial nations, with the exception of Germany, are expected to suffer economic declines in 1991 as credit tightens around the globe and trade subsides, the Conference Board said.

COMPANIES

The Associated Press and the Wire Service Guild reached tentative agreement on a two-year contract covering more than 1,300 employees nationwide. The agreement provides for raises of 2.8 percent in the first year and 2.3 percent in the second.

American General's board rejected two bids for its home service insurance subsidiaries and took the units off the sales block. American General, which put itself up for sale in May amid speculation it could be the target of a hostile takeover, is one of the nation's largest providers of life insurance, retirement plans and consumer loans.

Chrysler plans to idle its light truck plant in Warren, Mich., the week of Dec. 17 and then operate it for two weeks each month in January and February to trim inventories, union and company workers said.

Continental Airlines will begin daily nonstop service to Frankfurt from Newark International Airport on June 1.

Miller Brewing has received 22,000 applications for jobs at a brewery that won't open until next month in Trenton, Ohio, and isn't expected to have more than 1,500 employees.

USAir said it flew 5.4 percent more passenger miles in November compared with November 1989.

Wolworth said it opened its first store in the former East Germany, returning to the same property in the city of Halle where its German subsidiary operated before World War II.

Zenith National Insurance said it will create a $25 million reserve during the current quarter because of losses in its junk bond holdings.

Thalhimer Bros. of Richmond, which was the target of anti-fur demonstrations during Thanksgiving weekend, is closing its fur salons. A spokeswoman said company officials made "a business decision" to stop stocking furs and area rugs.

INTERNATIONAL

Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez said OPEC will be more powerful after the Persian Gulf crisis has ended, not weaker as some have predicted. Perez, speaking at the end of a Venezuelan oil conference, pointed out that OPEC nations had a large role in increasing world oil output after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August and the global community boycotted their oil.

South Korea, faced with rising local wages and other problems, lost $110 million in foreign corporate investments that were withdrawn in the first nine months of 1990, the nation's finance ministry said.

REGULATION

Baltimore Gas & Electric was fined $12,500 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which cited violations of security rules at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant near Lusby, Md.

Springhill Lake Hotel L.P. has been granted a new trial by a Maryland District Court in its contest of a $7.5 million judgment it was ordered to pay to Hilton Hotel Corp. last year. Hilton sued the Washington development group charging breach of contract after Springhill dismissed Hilton as the manager of the Greenbelt Hilton.

The New Jersey Insurance Department demanded a $500 million deposit from troubled First Executive Corp. for the right to continue selling life insurance in the state. But the state allowed its deadline to pass after an outcry by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners over the drastic action.

COURTS

Continental Airlines officials made misleading comments about the troubled carrier's plans to seek bankruptcy protection in an effort to prop up its stock value, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of shareholders. Continental disputed the allegations.

CONTRACTS

Martin Marietta won a $102.8 million contract from Raytheon for production and assembly of Patriot air defense missile systems through 1993.

EARNINGS

Grand Metropolitan, the British food and liquor company, said its 1990 profit jumped 25 percent, helped by the inclusion of Pillsbury's and Burger King's full-year results.

PEOPLE

Gen. John T. "Jack" Chain Jr., the retiring commander in chief of the Strategic Air Command, was named executive vice president for operations, at Burlington Northern Railroad. He will succeed Joseph R. Galassi, who is retiring.

David Paul, the ousted chairman of CenTrust, was back in court in an effort to get out of posting a $30.8 million bond that would cover lavish spending by the failed Miami thrift. The Office of Thrift Supervision ordered Paul to put up the cash, and Paul failed Tuesday to persuade a judge to throw out the order.