News In Brief

President Clinton met with congressional leaders of both parties for the first time in 19 months. All sides promised to work together despite partisan bitterness generated by the recent impeachment battle.

The US economy is performing admirably and "should remain solid this year, although likely with a slower pace of expansion and a slightly higher rate of overall inflation than last year," Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told the Senate Banking Committee. He warned of a number of threats to the economy, but said little that financial analysts had not anticipated.

US companies reacted negatively to an accord with Moscow on steel imports. Under the agreement, Russia will cut shipments of hot-rolled and other steel products by almost 70 percent from levels reached last year, when a surge of cheap steel entered the US. The annual quota for hot-rolled steel from Russia was set at 750,000 metric tons - with a floor price ranging from $255 to $280 per metric ton. Officials of US steel companies said the accord will still allow too much cheap steel to reach the American market.

The US has rejected the export of a Hughes Electronics satellite to China, administration officials said. Although the decision could be appealed, they characterized the rejection as final and said it signals a new, tougher philosophy toward export of high technology to China. The decision is a major setback for Hughes, a General Motors subsidiary whose satellite division is based in southern California.

A federal judge held two Cabinet secretaries in contempt of court in a dispute over $500 million in Indian trust funds. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt (l.), Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin (r.), and Babbitt's deputy, Assistant Interior Secretary Kevin Gover, to pay legal fees and other expenses resulting from delays in complying with a 1996 order to provide documents on accounts held by five Indians, lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging Interior and Treasury mismanagement of 300,000 Indian accounts.

US funds intended to help find civilian work for unemployed weapons scientists in the former Soviet Union have gone to scientists working on Russian weapons programs, a General Accounting Office study found. The report also said that of the $63.5 million spent so far on the program, only a small portion was reaching scientists at eligible institutes in Russia and other former Soviet states because 63 percent of the funds were spent in the US "in implementing and providing oversight of the program" and because the Russian institutes themselves were keeping some of the money.

The average US retail price for unleaded gasoline has fallen to a new all-time low average of 90.7 cents a gallon, the Department of Energy reported. The price is the lowest recorded by the department since it began tracking weekly retail fuel costs in August 1990. This week's price bests the previous record-low mark set last week at 91.9 cents a gallon. Energy Department officials said prices at the pump have fallen sharply from this time a year ago, when the average price was $1.04 a gallon.

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