The National Association of Securities Dealers fined Pruco Securities, a Prudential Insurance Co. of America subsidiary, $20 million for violating federal securities laws in connection with the sale of more than 200,000 variable life insurance policies from 1983 to 1995. Prudential Insurance has already paid $70 million in penalties and set aside $2.6 billion to pay policyholders who sued over deceptive sales practices.

Strong evidence that companies aren't complying with labor, tax, environmental or consumer-protection laws could be enough to bar them from doing business with the federal government, under a long-awaited Clinton administration proposal. Government contractors also could not charge taxpayers for the cost of activities intended to influence whether workers join labor unions or for some legal costs under the proposed regulations. Business groups were already condemning the new rules as politically motivated "blacklisting" designed to please labor unions, while union officials offered praise. The proposed rules are expected to appear in today's Federal Register, opening a period of public comment.

A Toyota unit was accused by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of illegally excluding blacks and women from its work force by filling positions mainly through union and personal referrals. The EEOC made the allegations in a federal civil rights lawsuit against Toyota Logistics Services, a unit of Toyota Motor Sales USA based at Port Newark, N.J.

Port of Oakland dock workers returned to work after leaving ships and trucks idling for two days, but longshoremen working without a contract staged slowdowns at other major ports along the Pacific coast. Negotiations on a new three-year contract were set to resume today.

Ford Motor Credit's highly sought-after multibillion-dollar bond deal may break the record for the largest U.S. corporate bond offering in history if demand continues to rise. The Ford unit's inaugural benchmark offering, launched yesterday as a three-part $6.5 billion deal, was increased to $7.5 billion to meet strong investor demand, the company said.

The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed fining Boeing $392,000 for allegedly failing to report a safety problem on 757 jetliners until a year after it was discovered. The FAA says Boeing failed to report the problem within 24 hours as required by federal rules. Boeing, however, contends it wasn't clear until much later that the problem was serious enough to fall under that requirement. The problem in 757 fuel systems was fixed three years ago. The FAA contends Boeing discovered the defect in late May 1995 but did not report it to the FAA until June 1996.

Yahoo modified the rules for its GeoCities Internet community after users called a boycott to protest a policy that appeared to claim rights to content posted on personal Web sites. The new rules give the company nonexclusive rights that can be used only to display and promote the Web sites of GeoCities users. In its previous guidelines, the company said it had "perpetual, irrevocable" rights to any content posted on GeoCities pages, which often contain the work of professional photographers and writers.

Walt Disney Co. plans to merge its Buena Vista Television Production group, which is now part of Disney Studios, into the ABC Television Network. Buena Vista produces "Boy Meets World" and other series. The move follows company-Wide cost-cutting measures and restructurings at other divisions.

Local phone companies cannot force customers to dial five or dix extra digits in order to use another local long-distance service, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled unanimously. The dispute involves long-distance calls made within areas where Ameritech Michigan and long-distance companies such AT&T and MCI WorldCom compete head to head.

AlliedSignal settled its lawsuit over the proposed merger of aerospace products makers BFGoodrich and Coltec Industries. A source close to the negotiations said BFGoodrich promised AlliedSignal it would include its wheels and brakes on BFGoodrich landing gears and would put together joint bids with AlliedSignal. The merger has passed the scrutiny of the Defense Department and Federal Trade Commission.

The benchmark Russell 2000 stock index released the list of small companies that will make up its roster for the coming year, knocking out 375 companies that had grown too large over the past 12 months. Gone are Ameritrade, E-Trade Group, CMGI, Doubleclick, Lycos, RealNetworks and many other sexy Internet companies that helped drive the Russell 2000's 7.28 percent rise so far in 1999. A total of 513 companies were added.

Hughes Electronics won a contract to supply satellites to BP Amoco for its U.S. service stations, beating out rival Gilat Satellite Networks, BP Amoco said. The small satellite dishes transmit credit-card and other types of transaction data. Financial terms of the contract weren't immediately available.

Softbank, one of the top backers of Internet businesses, will invest $91 million in Morningstar, a Chicago-based publisher of mutual fund information that's seeking to expand its Internet presence. That would give Tokyo-based Softbank a 20 percent ownership interest in the company.

Stride Rite, the leading maker of children's shoes, said its chairman and chief executive, James A. Eskridge, has resigned. Myles J. Slosberg, who has been president of the Keds division, will take his place until a successor can be found. The company also said its board elected Diane M. Sullivan as president and chief operating officer. Sullivan was previously a group president.

Pharmacia & Upjohn announced an agreement to sell its nutrition business in Germany to Baxter Deutschland. Financial terms were not disclosed. The company had in December 1998 sold its nutrition business outside Germany -- except China -- to Fresenius.

The Justice Department approved the acquisition of Continental Grain's Commodity Marketing Group by grain trader Cargill, provided Cargill sells an array of grain and soybean facilities in several states. The department's antitrust division said the original deal, estimated to be worth $300 million, would have illegally reduced competition.

Weirton Steel said top executives have been discussing "business opportunities" with the heads of steelmaker WHX, though it didn't disclose details.

Major newsprint makers hope to raise prices by about $50 per metric ton, but analysts say it's uncertain that the price increase will stick. Abitibi-Consolidated, the world's leading supplier of newsprint, is notifying newspaper publishers that it wants to raise its prices in October to recoup some of the decline in prices this year. Bowater, another major newsprint supplier, has reportedly made similar notifications. Newsprint prices have fallen about 20 percent since the beginning of the year, to just under $500 per metric ton, because of a glut in supplies and weaker demand for the product in Asia.

INTERNATIONAL

Mexican financial regulators took control of the country's third-largest financial services company, Grupo Financiero Serfin, in its latest attempt to keep the fragile bank system afloat in the wake of the December 1994 peso devaluation.

EARNINGS

Safeway said its fiscal second-quarter earnings rose 22 percent, to $236.4 million, on higher sales from acquisitions and continued cost reductions.

General Electric reported that its second-quarter profit rose 15 percent, to $2.82 billion, led by strong performances in its aircraft engines, power systems and financial services units.

Biogen, the Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology firm, said second-quarter earnings rose 38 percent, to $43.39 million, as a result of higher sales of Avonex, its drug that treats multiple sclerosis.

National Discount Brokers Group said its fiscal fourth-quarter profit grew to $8.3 million from $2.9 million, largely because of strong revenue from the brokerage's market-making unit. For the fiscal year, earnings rose 75 percent, to $21 million.

RECALLS

Cosco, a baby-equipment maker, has recalled about 670,000 car seats because the handle locks can release when the seat is used as a carrier, allowing infants to fall out. The Columbus, Ind., company said there have been 151 reports of handles releasing on Cosco Arriva and Turnabout carriers, injuring at least 29 children. The recall involves Cosco models made from March 1, 1995, to Sept. 9, 1997. Consumers can get a free repair kit or more information by calling Cosco at 1-800-221-6736 or going to the company's Web site at www.coscoinc.com.

LOCAL BUSINESS

Carlyle Group of Washington said it had signed an agreement to purchase Gemini Air Cargo in partnership with Gemini management and employees. Gemini, based at Dulles International Airport, provides aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance services to other airlines. Gemini now operates eight DC-10 aircraft, with another two scheduled for delivery next year. Details of the agreement were not announced.

Lockheed Martin of Bethesda said it will combine two businesses in Florida and Texas into a new Missiles and Fire Control division in an effort to compete better for new markets. The move is expected to cut costs by eliminating jobs and simplifying the network of feeder plants that support the now-separate Electronics & Missiles and Vought Systems businesses. The combined unit has 8,000 employees and annual sales of $2 billion. The number of job cuts was not specified.