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The Dow Jones industrial average lost 1.12 points Friday to close at 3,838.78. It lost 48.68 in the week.


MetLife to pay fine for sales practices

Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. has agreed to pay a fine of at least $1.5-million for misleading sales practices in Pennsylvania, according to Bloomberg Business News and the Wall Street Journal.

Pennsylvania regulators have concluded that some MetLife agents in the Pittsburgh area misled customers into replacing existing policies with inferior or unsuitable ones, a practice called "churning." Authorities in Florida and other states also are investigating MetLife for deceptive sales practices.

Meanwhile, New York Life Insurance Co. has informed Florida regulators that an agent in Tarpon Springs mailed 4,000 misleading sales brochures in 1992 and 1993. The company said the letters, which used nearly the same wording as misleading literature distributed by MetLife, outlined retirement savings plans for nurses and X-ray technicians even though the company had no such plans.

New York Life spokesman James Tolve said no one was fired, suspended or reprimanded as a result of the internal investigation. The state's investigation is still under way.

AMERICA WEST ACCEPTS BID. The board of America West Airlines has endorsed a bid from an investment group led by the chairman of Continental Airlines, David Bonderman, to help the carrier emerge from bankruptcy. Bonderman, along with other investors that include Continental Airlines, Mesa Airlines and Fidelity Investments, offered $220-million for a 37.5 percent stake. Other bids may be submitted.

Tampa Bay/State

DISNEY TO LAY OFF 360. Walt Disney World plans to lay off 360 of 36,000 employees at its Florida entertainment resort, a company spokeswoman said Friday. The 1 percent work force cut is part of a larger restructuring intended to boost financial growth. Attendance at Disney theme parks has been soft in recent months. The Walt Disney Co. reported a loss in its fourth quarter of fiscal 1993, but it had a record-setting first quarter in 1994.

CHECKERS CHOOSES AGENCY. Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc. has named a Richmond, Va., agency to handle its $5-million advertising account. The Clearwater-based hamburger chain hopes that The Martin Agency, working with a doubled advertising budget, will help the company regain its once-torrid growth, which dropped off in 1993. Martin handles the advertising for companies such as Mercedes-Benz of North America, Banc One Corporation and Residence Inn by Marriott.

Best Mortgage Rate

The best 30-year fixed mortgage rate in the Tampa Bay area as reported Friday was 7.500 percent with 0 points offered by, among others, Apex Mortgage Corp. (813) 684-1111, Abbot Mortgage (813) 538-8660, and Damis Mortgage Corp. (813) 888-8107. The rate is based on a $100,000 purchase with a 5 to 10 percent down payment. For additional mortgage rate information, see the complete list of rates offered by area institutions in today's Home & Garden section. The information is supplied by National Financial News Services in West Chester, Pa.



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