NEW YORK (AP) _ Lawrence Chimerine is stepping down as chairman and chief executive of WEFA Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of an international economic forecasting and consulting firm, ''by mutual consent,'' the parent company said Monday.

WEFA Group, the parent company, said Chimerine's job had been eliminated and the U.S. subsidiary would report to an executive committee, as other subsidiaries do. It said Chimerine would maintain a limited association with the firm as a senior economic adviser and keep his office.

WEFA Group, of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., was formed by the merger of Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates Inc. and Chase Econometrics Inc. in 1987 and is owned by WEF Associates of Basel, Switzerland.

''There was a changing environment and Larry decided he wanted to pursue other things,'' Gerard Vila, the WEFA Group chairman, said in an interview.

Vila said it no longer made sense to have a separate chairman for the U.S. operation because the firm had become multinational. And he said clients were demanding comprehensive business data and advice ''as opposed to narrowly defined macroeconomic forecasting.'' Forecasting is Chimerine's specialty.

Chimerine said he was prevented from discussing the reasons for his departure and called it ''a long story.'' He said his plans were uncertain but would include outside speaking and consulting work.

''I'm delighted,'' he said. ''I've been thinking of doing other things for a long time and this will give me an opportunity to do it.''