A 46-day newspaper strike, longest in the city's history, ended today as the last of nine unions approved new contracts, and The Philadelphia Inquirer prepared its presses to publish a Wednesday morning edition.

Teamsters drivers and three other unions approved the settlement with The Inquirer and the afternoon Daily News, ending the walkout by 4,700 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. employes. The company estimated that it lost $1 million a day in revenues.

About 100 employes had gathered outside the papers' downtown building waiting for the final union, the mailers, to vote. At 4:34 p.m., William Gullifer, spokesman for all nine unions, strode to the door and said, "The strike is over."

The drivers had rejected by 12 votes a proposed contract settlement reached at dawn last Friday. Leaders scheduled a new vote today, saying members misunderstood the proposal. Today's vote was 248 to 132 for the contract.

The agreement was then ratified by The Newspaper Guild, the typographers and the mailers. Each of the contracts calls for an average increase of $37.50 per week over four years. The money is allocated differently by individual unions to cover varying pay scales.

The Newspaper Guild said it won a third personal-leave day, effective in 1989, and an early retirement provision at age 62, beginning in November 1987.

Automation and job security were also at issue.

By the middle of last week, editors had begun assigning stories in anticipation of putting out, as one reporter put it, "one hell of a first paper."

Company spokesman William Broom said the first editions of the 519,621-circulation Inquirer and 284,253-circulation Daily News would contain less advertising than usual, but would otherwise appear the same as before. The Inquirer's circulation is 1 million on Sundays.

In Chicago meanwhile, the Sun-Times and a union representing about 275 reporters, editors and photographers agreed on a tentative contract tonight, averting a walkout at the nation's 10th-largest daily newspaper.