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GROWTH SEEN THROUGH '98: The economy's growth is expected to continue through the rest of this year after a key barometer of future economic activity rose 0.2 percent in March for a third straight monthly increase. The Conference Board said its Index of Leading Indicators for March was 105.2, up from 105 in February. The gain matched economists' projections. The Conference Board, a private business research group, said two sister indicators also rose last month, further depicting steady growth in the economy.

PHONE CHANGES URGED: AT&T Corp. chief executive C. Michael Armstrong says regulators should force the Baby Bells to separate their local phone operations and cut access fees to break their monopoly on the U.S. local phone market. AT&T, the largest U.S. long-distance phone company, has failed in efforts to enter the local phone market in the two years since a law was passed to increase local competition. AT&T has been lobbying regulators and the Federal Communications Commission to change laws to make it easier _ and cheaper _ for AT&T to make headway in the local market.

GREENSPAN, CLINTON MEET: Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and President Clinton met at Clinton's invitation at the White House for the first time in 16 months. The one-hour meeting was described as a wide-ranging discussion of the booming economy. Bonds fell as some investors drew a connection between the timing of the meeting, two weeks ahead of the Fed's next policy meeting, and a possible Fed interest-rate increase.

DENNY'S APOLOGIZES: The president of Denny's restaurant chain apologized to 40 black sixth-graders from Baltimore and their chaperones who said they were denied service at an Ocoee restaurant last week. "We apologize to the students and chaperones who did not feel welcome during their visit," John Romandetti said. "It is clear that these customers do not believe they were treated with the courtesy and respect that we pledge to every Denny's guest. For that, we are sorry." Denny's reported the complaint to federal investigators. Romandetti said if investigators find discrimination occurred, swift action will be taken against those involved. Four years ago, Denny's settled a discrimination lawsuit for $46-million.

Tampa Bay/State

NATIONSBANK ADDS OFFICE: NationsBank Corp. said it will open an office in Tampa as part of an effort to expand its public-finance business in Florida. David Adams will move from Charlotte, N.C., to head the Tampa office, which will direct its sales efforts toward local governments and not-for-profit organizations planning to raise money through new debt issues.

_ Compiled from Times staff, wire and Bloomberg News reports.

Bay business on cable

Watch for Extra on Business on Bay News 9 tonight. The weekly report about Tampa Bay area business is produced with the St. Petersburg Times. It can be seen on Time Warner cable television.

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