Weaker economy indicatedThe pace of industry, employment...

BUSINESS DIGEST

October 02, 1992

Weaker economy indicated

The pace of industry, employment and commercial construction all showed dismal performances at the end of summer as the economy apparently weakened, figures released yesterday indicate.

The National Association of Purchasing Managers index of manufacturing activity dipped back into recession territory in September. The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose for a fifth straight week, and commercial construction activity plunged to the lowest level in eight years.

MNC settlement approved

A federal judge has approved a previously announced $8.8 million settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by shareholders of MNC Financial Inc. who alleged that the banking company misrepresented its true condition before financial problems came to light in the fall of 1990.

Judge J. Frederick Motz, at a hearing in U.S. District Court last Friday, approved the settlement agreement, which the parties had reached in April. The approval means the money will be put in an escrow account, and the plaintiffs' attorneys will distribute it to affected shareholders.

Reorganization sought

Sierra Leather Design, once a thriving chain of Baltimore-area stores dealing in leather apparel, shoes and accessories, is trying to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy law.

The Towson-based parent company, Sierra Leather Limited, closed four of its six locations this year and is down to two locations, Towson Town Center and Harborplace.

AmEx cuts rates for some

American Express Co. said yesterday it was lowering the interest rate for its better class of Optima cardholders, to 12 percent from 12.5 percent. Citicorp, the nation's largest issuer of credit cards, lowered the interest rates on Visa and MasterCard cards by half a percentage point, also effective yesterday.

Maryland Federal profits rise

Maryland Federal Bancorp in Hyattsville said fiscal second-quarter earnings rose 88 percent, spurred by gains on the sale of first mortgage loans and foreclosed property. Income in the period ended Aug. 31 increased to $2.53 million, or 77 cents a share, from $1.34 million, or 42 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Maryland Federal's assets increased to $826.8 million as of Aug. 31 from $818.2 million a year earlier.

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