American Family Enterprises, which runs a sweepstakes plugged by Dick Clark and Ed McMahon, filed for bankruptcy protection to help it settle dozens of lawsuits alleging deceptive advertising over its sweepstakes. American Family also announced that it had reached an agreement in principle to settle several dozen class-action lawsuits consolidated in Newark.

Toshiba said it will take a $1.05 billion charge to settle a U.S. class-action lawsuit that accused the world's largest maker of notebook computers of selling defective PCs. Two owners of Toshiba PCs filed suit in Beaumont, Tex., alleging that software in the company's floppy disk controllers could cause data to be lost or damaged. As many as 5 million PCs containing the controllers have been shipped. The Tokyo company said it agreed to settle the suit even though no consumer complained of losing data as a result of the glitch.

Sales of single-family homes dropped 12.8 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 811,000 units, the Commerce Department said. That was much lower than the 948,000 annual pace forecast by economists and the lowest pace since the annual rate hit 791,000 units in December 1997. The department also revised August's sales downward to a pace of 930,000 units, previously reported as 983,000, and revised July to 934,000 units from 955,000.

Entropic, a closely held District-based maker of speech-recognition software, was bought by Microsoft. Entropic's D.C. headquarters will be closed and its engineers will either move to Microsoft's base in Redmond, Wash., or continue to work in Entropic's office in Cambridge, England. Entropic's founder and vice chairman, John Shore, and president and chief executive, Paul Finke, will leave the company.