US ECONOMIC FIGURES RELEASED The United States economy is inching along at a slower pace than economists expected. The Commerce Department said yesterday the gross domestic product the country's total output of goods and services grew at an annual rate of 0.7 percent from January through March, down from the 4.7 percent gain of the October-December quarter. This represented the second downward revision to GDP activity and was blamed on slower growth in consumer spending and business inventories and a worsening US trade deficit.

While economists expected a weaker GDP report, they were surprised by a second report Wednesday showing that orders to US factories for "big ticket" durable goods plunged 1.6 percent in May. They had expected a healthy increase of around 1.5 percent following two months of falling demand. Durable goods orders had dropped a sharp 3.4 percent in March and were down 0.2 percent in April. Still, some analysts say the economy will gradually strengthen as the year progresses. New Yugoslavia plan

International mediators launched a new bid yesterday to end the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina by creating three linked mini-states for Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, insisting the country stay together.

Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said he was ready to agree to the battered Balkan republic becoming a confederation.

Mr. Owen has made it clear that he and his fellow-mediator, Thorvald Stoltenberg, prefer an earlier plan that created 10 ethnically based provinces but did not provide for such a sharp division of the three communities.

Alija Izetbegovic, president of Bosnia, refused to attend the talks on the new plan, which he has said would amount to "genocide" against the Muslims. Haiti's leaders to meet

Haiti's exiled president Jean-Bertrand Aristide will meet with Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, the military leader who ousted him, the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN Security Council said yesterday.

Mr. Aristide agreed Tuesday to hold talks on restoring democracy, a day after General Cedras agreed to meet with him. The two are expected to meet this weekend, perhaps on the island of Aruba.

Despite the progress, a UN oil and arms embargo against Haiti took effect as scheduled Wednesday. The sanctions are the toughest international pressure yet on the military rulers to reinstate democratic rule. Hong Kong handover

China signaled yesterday that it will push ahead with plans for an alternative power center to British rule before the colony reverts to Chinese control in 1997.

According to reports in the pro-Beijing Hong Kong press, China is forming a 57-member committee to prepare for the handover of Hong Kong, headed by Foreign Minister Qian Qichen and comprised of sympathetic legislators and some of the colony's most powerful tycoons.

First threatened last spring amid a bitter dispute over democratic reforms in Hong Kong, the committee is widely viewed as a "shadow government" in the colony. Israeli arms deal

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, now chief of staff in Chile, is going to Israel to complete an arms deal. Sources close to Chile's democratically elected government have warned Israel that Gen. Pinochet is still seen as a threat to Chilean democracy. Israel Radio reported that the deal is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and said government leaders are divided over whether to permit the visit. According to foreign reports, Israel has sold weapons to several South American countries . Detroit's mayor quits

Coleman Young, Detroit's mayor, announced on Tuesday he will not seek an unprecedented sixth term. Mr. Young was the first black mayor of the nation's eighth-largest city, whose population is now more than 75 percent black. Elected six years after the 1967 race riots, he counts integrating Detroit's police force as one of his greatest accomplishments.

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