Mortgage delinquencies improved in the first quarter of 1999, falling to 4.13 percent from 4.26 percent. In the past four quarters, the delinquency rate has fallen from 4.42 percent and now is at the lowest level since the first quarter of 1995. The rate in the first quarter was 2.71 percent for conventional loans, 8.43 percent for FHA loans and 6.88 percent for VA loans.

Qwest Communications International is trying to arrange $4 billion in loans to help pay for Frontier and US West, both of which earlier agreed to merge with Global Crossing Ltd., bankers said. Qwest's bankers are starting to market the loans to other lenders. Frontier's board said it is sticking to its agreement with Global Crossing; US West still is considering Qwest's competing bid.

Coca-Cola faced more problems in Europe as Spain withdrew 390,000 bottles of soda from shelves, despite no recorded cases of health problems there. Germany warned citizens to drink only Coke products with German language labels in case beverages from suspected bottling plants in Belgium or France where contaminants were brought across the border. Also, cans from the French plant turned up in Spain, which seized some of the product, and also were found in Switzerland.

Northwest Airlines passengers who were stranded for hours during a January snowstorm in Detroit can combine forces in a lawsuit against the airline, a Michigan court ruled yesterday. Up to 8,000 passengers, left waiting on the snow-covered runway about eight hours while toilets overflowed and food and beverage supplies ran out during the Jan. 3 blizzard, are eligible to join the class action lawsuit.

Commercial bank profits reached a record $18 billion in the first quarter, up 12.9 percent from the January-to-March period last year, the FDIC said Friday.

GoTo.com, an Internet search engine, sold 6 million shares at $15 a share yesterday in its first day of trading, raising $90 million. After beginning trading, shares of GoTo.com were up $10.50 to $25.50 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

AT&T said it was in talks to swap some cable assets. AT&T was in talks with Adelphia Communications, Comcast, Charter Communications and Cox Communications to swap cable systems.

INTERNATIONAL

Air France has picked Delta Air Lines as its exclusive North American partner and will sever its alliance with Continental Airlines by October, said a person familiar with Air France discussions with Delta.

LOCAL BUSINESS

AES, a worldwide builder and operator of electric power plants, said it will acquire New Energy Ventures LLC for $90 million in cash and stock. The purchase marks a new direction for the Arlington-based company into marketing. New Energy, based in Los Angeles, was created in 1975 to market power in California and other markets as they were deregulated.