ECONOMY

Housing starts rose in November for the first time in 10 months, but construction of single-family homes plummeted to a level not seen since the last recession. The Commerce Department said the overall advance was due solely to a 102 percent rebound in multifamily housing starts.

Demand for oil dropped 2.6 percent in the United States in November from year-earlier levels in face of higher fuel prices and the slowing economy, the American Petroleum Institute said.

Money market fund yields were lower in the latest reporting week, as were deposit and lending rates at most savings and loan institutions, reporting organizations said. Average seven-day simple yields were 7.17, down from 7.22 percent.

COMPANIES

Bell Atlantic and US Sprint will jointly seek to sell improved cellular phone service to federal agencies that use the FTS-2000 telecommunications network.

Tropicana agreed to launch a 50-50 joint venture with Kirin Brewery of Japan to market citrus beverages in metropolitan Tokyo area.

Midlantic Corp. of Edison, N.J., eliminated its dividend on common stock and disclosed that federal banking regulators had imposed restrictions on the operations of four of its subsidiary banks. Midlantic is New Jersey's second-largest banking company.

Philips, the Dutch electronics giant, might be broken up and sold in pieces if a drastic reorganization plan fails, the company's president, Jan D. Timer, suggested in an interview.

INTERNATIONAL

President Bush telephoned West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and discussed prospects for restarting stalled international trade talks, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said. Bush asked Kohl to use his influence within the European Community to get member nations to cut agricultural subsidies so negotiations can move forward. Fitzwater said he didn't know how Kohl responded.

China's first computerized stock market opened in Shanghai with almost no stocks for sale. Instead, government bonds are the main offering and even their sale will be tightly restricted.

REGULATION

The FTC approved Roche Holding's acquisition of Genentech, but required the Swiss concern to issue U.S. licenses for its patents for AIDS treatment. The FTC said acquisition of Genentech by Roche might substantially lessen competition in the U.S. market for CD-4-based therapeutics for the treatment of AIDS.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board adopted accounting rules changes for retirement benefits other than pensions that require companies to set aside reserves now for future retirees. The controversial rule significantly changes the predominant practice of accounting on a cash, "pay as you go" basis to an accrual basis and is expected to affect company earnings.

CONTRACTS

Space Systems/Loral, formerly Ford Aerospace, received an Intelsat contract worth more than $200 million to build two communications satellites.

BDM International of McLean signed a contract with Corabi International Telemetrics Inc. to sell medical systems that would help doctors in the Persian Gulf share instant patient information, such as microscopic tissue samples, with doctors at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda. BDM and Corabi Telemetrics, headquartered in Alexandria, hope to sell the systems to the military.

Hughes and Spar Aerospace won more than $200 million in contracts to build two mobile satellites for American Mobile Satellite Corp. and Telesat Mobile Inc. of Ottawa, which signed a joint operating agreement in April.

General Dynamics received a $765 million Navy contract for one nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.

PEOPLE

Bruce Sundlun, recently elected governor of Rhode Island, has resigned as chairman of QuesTech of Falls Church. Vincent L. Salvatori, president and chief executive, will assume the duties of chairman.

Roger W. Schipke, president of Ryland Group Inc., was elected chief executive and chairman of the Columbia, Md., home builder. Schipke replaces Charles E. "Ted" Peck, 65, who is retiring. Schipke, 53, has been Ryland president since May.

William Gates, chief executive of Microsoft, is personally seeking to purchase the electronic-imaging rights to thousands of well-known paintings and photographs, the Wall Street Journal reported. Such archives could provide royalties from distribution and programming for hardware such as video and compact disc players.

Michael Denlinger, a former Hughes Aircraft Co. employee, dropped his $9.6 billion "whistle blower" lawsuit accusing Hughes of covering up flaws in 4.75 million microchips installed in defense systems.

ODD LOTS

A tax on imported oil will be considered by President Bush as part of a national energy strategy, the Department of Energy said. The tax will be among some 67 policy options the department is preparing for Bush.