Florida's attorney general urged consumers to reject a $10 million settlement offer by Publishers Clearing House, saying the state will file its own lawsuit next week against the sweepstakes company. Robert Butterworth said a proposed class-action settlement of an Illinois suit last month amounted to only pennies for consumers who agree to drop allegations against the company. That suit accuses Publishers Clearing House of duping customers by telling them that buying magazine subscriptions and other items would improve their chances of winning multimillion-dollar prizes.

General Motors and DaimlerChrysler said U.S. sales of cars and light trucks rose in August, helped by discounts designed to clear dealer lots for new models. Sales of GM's cars and light trucks built in North America rose 65 percent from August 1998, when its vehicle supply was reduced by strikes. Sales of DaimlerChrysler vehicles rose 9.6 percent. Honda's U.S. sales rose 11 percent, Toyota's increased 2.8 percent, and Volkswagen's surged 34 percent.

The economic expansion is likely to continue into early 2000, according to one key gauge, though rising interest rates are beginning to slow sectors such as home building. The index of leading economic indicators, which is designed to help forecast trends up to six months in the future, rose a slightly better-than-expected 0.3 percent in July, to 108, the Conference Board reported. But construction spending unexpectedly fell 0.5 percent in the same month, the Commerce Department reported.

Hilton Hotels and Promus Hotel said they are discussing a possible combination of the Hilton chain and the owner of the Doubletree, Embassy Suites and Hampton Inn hotels. Hilton and Promus declined to comment on details of their talks and cautioned that a transaction is not certain.

Masco, the largest U.S. manufacturer of kitchen cabinets and bathroom fixtures, said it has purchased five makers of home-improvement products for about $3.8 billion in cash, stock and assumed debt, broadening its product lines. The companies are Arrow Fastener, Behr Process, Inrecon, Mill's Pride and Superia Radiatoren.

The New York Times said it will raise the suggested newsstand price of its daily newspaper to 75 cents from 60 cents in the greater New York metropolitan area, effective Sept. 13. There will be no change in the $2.50 price of the Sunday edition or in the suggested newsstand price for the daily Northeast and national editions, which is $1.

INTERNATIONAL

Elf Aquitaine unveiled plans to raise about $4.6 billion by selling almost half its stake in drugmaker Sanofi-Synthelabo, to help finance its takeover battle with French oil rival TotalFina. Paris-based Elf, which now owns 35 percent of Sanofi, said it will sell 15.5 percent. TotalFina announced its hostile $42 billion all-stock offer for Elf on July 5. Two weeks later, Elf responded with a $51.7 billion cash-and-stock bid for TotalFina. The fight between France's two largest oil companies is winding through the French courts.

RECALLS

Guess is recalling more than 78,000 girls' T-shirts with a liquid-filled bubble patch on the front. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said the liquid contains a petroleum distillate that can be harmful if ingested. The bubble patches come in three shapes--a heart, a circle and a rectangle. The T-shirts were sold in clothing stores nationwide from June 1997 through March 1999. Customers should stop wearing the T-shirts immediately and return them to the store where they were purchased for a refund, the commission said.

Amana Appliances is recalling more than 5,000 gas-fueled, down-draft ovens that have a faulty lock. The oven can open during the self-clean cycle, exposing people to high temperatures. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said no injuries have been reported, but customers should stop using the self-cleaning feature. They can continue to use the oven for cooking. The recalled ovens have the model number AGDS901E or AGDS901WW on the lower left side. The ovens were sold nationwide from October 1995 through July 1999. Customers should call Amana for a free replacement of the self-clean locking mechanism, at 1-800-266-3535.

EARNINGS

Litton Industries, the Navy's third-largest shipbuilder, said it lost $21.5 million in its fiscal fourth quarter because of $77.4 million in charges related to shedding some information technology businesses. The loss in the quarter ended July 31 compared with a profit of $50.5 million a year earlier.

LOCAL BUSINESS

Iridium, the District-based satellite-telephone company that filed for bankruptcy protection last month, said Leo Mondale has resigned as chief financial officer of the company, the second CFO to leave in five months. Mondale became CFO of the company in May. Iridium said it named David Gibson, a managing director at the corporate-turnaround company Alvarez & Marsal, as interim CFO.

Safeway said it will add Crestar Bank branches to its 75 supermarkets in the Baltimore-Washington market over the next three years. The move comes soon after Shoppers Food Warehouse announced it will add pharmacies and bank branches at its stores.

Bell Atlantic Data Solutions Group said it will acquire Manassas-based Metropolitan Technologies, a privately held data-communications and computer-solutions company, and its distribution counterpart, Metro Technologies Inc. The acquisitions by Frazer, Pa.-based DSG will increase Bell Atlantic's network-integration and sales work force by about 20 percent, company officials said. Metro employs more than 200 people, most of whom are technical personnel. The company will remain in Manassas, and no job cuts are expected.