Yahoo! (YHOO) and eBay (EBAY) - Get Report are negotiating a possible pact or merger, CNBC reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, the

Financial Times

cited people familiar with the situation in reporting that the talks between the two companies, which it said were preliminary in nature, ended last week.

According to

CNBC

, there is a 50-50 chance for a pact between the two Internet giants, with a "significantly" smaller chance that Yahoo! would wholly acquire eBay.

CNBC

reported that sources said negotiations heated up after

America Online

(AOL)

said it would buy

Time Warner

(TWX)

, but that no definitive agreement has been set. Yahoo! fell 10 1/4, or 6.1%, to 158 1/2, while eBay dropped 21 1/8, or 10%, to 189 7/8. America Online was down 1/2 to 61.

E.piphany

(EPNY)

, an e-commerce software concern, is buying privately held

Octane Software

for a little more than $3 billion in stock. Under terms of the deal, E.piphany will issue 12.8 million shares of stock to Octane shareholders. Epiphany said the purchase will boost short-term losses but would not lengthen its road to profitability. E.piphany dropped 61 15/16, or 24.9%, to 187.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

General Electric's

(GE) - Get Report

GE Plastics unit and

Energy Conversions Devices

(ENER)

said they formed a joint venture to produce technology for the high-speed manufacture of rewritable digital video disks. General Electric advanced 6 8/16, or 5.2%, to 133 9/16.

The

European Commission

has extended the date for it to rule on the planned merger of

Pharmacia & Upjohn

(PNU)

and

Monsanto

(MTC) - Get Report

,

Reuters

said. The new deadline is March 30 instead of Friday. Pharmacia & Upjohn climbed 3, or 5.7%, to 56, while Monsanto rose 3 3/4, or 9.1%, to 44 7/8.

Phillips

(P)

will pay between $6.5 billion and $7 billion for the Alaska oil assets of

Atlantic Richfield

(ARC) - Get Report

, Reuters reported, citing a source close to the situation. The sale is an effort to meet the antitrust objections of U.S. regulators to the purchase of Arco by

BP Amoco

(BPA)

Phillips was down 3/8 to 39 1/16; Atlantic Richfield was up 4 1/4, or 5.4%, to 83 1/4 and BP Amoco advanced 1 5/8 to 52 3/4.

Research in Motion

(RIMM)

signed a deal with Canada's largest wireless provider,

Rogers AT&T Wireless

, to distribute BlackBerry Internet Edition in Canada. As part of the pact, Rogers AT&T Wireless placed an initial order for 10,000 BlackBerry Handhelds. BlackBerry Internet Edition offers customers a single-mailbox, mobile solution with both wireless and Web-based access to email. Research In Motion is a designer, manufacturer and marketer of wireless solutions for the mobile communications market. Research in Motion lost 7 7/16, or 5.8%, to 120 1/16.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(

Earnings estimates from First Call; new highs and lows on a closing basis unless otherwise specified. Earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified.

)

Talbots

(TLB)

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 48 cents a share, beating the 14-analyst estimate of 46 cents and up from the year-ago 26 cents. The company said it expects to accelerate its store-opening program this year, with plans calling for opening about 52 new stores and to be operating about 720 stores by the end of the fiscal year. Talbots lifted 6 1/4, or 15.3%, to 47 1/16.

Amphenol

(APH) - Get Report

said it sees first-quarter earnings between 85 cents and 88 cents a share, well above the three-analyst estimate of 74 cents. The company also approved a 2-for-1 stock split. Amphenol moved up 5 3/8, or 6.7%, to 86 1/8.

Bear Stearns

(BSC)

posted first-quarter earnings of $1.89 a share, beating the five-analyst estimate of $1.55 and the year-ago $1.45. Bear Stearns advanced 1 9/16 to 41 1/2.

Goody's Family Clothing

(GDYS)

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 3 cents a share, in line with the three-analyst estimate but down from the year-ago 25 cents. The company expects earnings for the first half of fiscal 2000 to be weaker than that of the first half of fiscal 1999, while earnings for the second half of fiscal 2000 are projected to exceed those of the second half of 1999. Goody's Family Clothing fell 9/32 to 6 29/32.

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

posted third-quarter earnings of 17 cents a share, beating the

First Call/Thomson Financial

31-analyst estimate of 13 cents and up from the year-ago 9-cent profit. The software maker said that sales increased 18% to $2.45 billion from $2.08 billion. Oracle said it was able to slash costs by $1 billion through the efficient use of its own database software.

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint venture newsroom wrote about Oracle's earnings in a story

yesterday.

In the wake of the report,

Warburg Dillon Read

raised its price target on the stock to 100 from 85.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

raised its 2000 earning estimates to 71 cents from 56 cents, and its 2001 estimates to 80 cents from 66 cents. Oracle rose 1 5/8 to 78 5/8.

State Street

(STT) - Get Report

said it is achieving strong first-quarter revenue growth and expects earnings growth to top the year-ago rate of 16%. State Street jumped 6 1/2, or 9.8%, to 72 13/16.

Whirlpool

(WHR) - Get Report

said it confirmed consensus estimates for 2000. The current 10-analyst estimate is $6.24 a share. Whirlpool was up 5 3/16, or 10.6%, to 54 1/16.

Williams-Sonoma

(WSM) - Get Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 82 cents a share, a penny better than the 16-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 75 cents. Williams-Sonoma rose 1 3/8, or 6.3%, to 23 1/8.

Offerings and stock actions

Vignette's

(VIGN)

shed 20 1/2, or 7.5%, to 252 1/4 after it approved a 3-for-1 stock split.

Cardinal Health

(CAH) - Get Report

climbed 2 9/16, or 6.3%, to 43 1/4 after it said it set a stock buyback for up to $750 million.

Cox Communications

(COX)

was unchanged at 43 after it said it has sold its 13% stake in British-based

Flextech

through a $520 million private placement offering.

Robertson Stephens

priced a 4.5 million-share IPO for

Loudeye

(LOUD)

at 15 a share, the top of its expected 13-15 range. Loudeye popped 24, or 150%, to 40. 1/16.

Mediabay

(MBAY)

fell 1 9/16, or 15.6%, to 8 7/16 after it priced a 3.65 million-share secondary offering at $9 a share.

Analyst actions

Credit Suisse First Boston

upgraded

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

to strong buy from buy. Amgen added 6 1/4, or 12%, to 58 1/2.

Warburg Dillon Read

upgraded

Altera

(ALTR) - Get Report

to strong buy from buy. Altera dropped 3 9/16 to 84 7/16.

PaineWebber

lowered its price target on

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

to 68 from 74. Amazon.com dropped 1 7/8 to 63 3/4.

ING Barings

analyst Paul Kelly initiated coverage of

Celera Genomics

(CRA)

with a strong buy. Celera dropped 14, or 9.1%, to 140 despite the news.

Banc of America Securities

raised

Compaq

(CPQ)

to strong buy from buy. Compaq lost 1/8 to 29 7/8.

Lehman Brothers

lowered

Cordant Technologies

(CDD)

to neutral from a buy rating. Cordant inched up 7/16 to 55 1/2.

J.P. Morgan

started coverage of

Drugstore.com

(DSCM)

with a buy rating and a price target of 35. Drugstore.com dropped 1 5/8, or 8.2%, to 18 1/4.

J.P. Morgan began coverage of

Enersis

(ENI)

with a long-term buy rating and a 12-month price target of 24 per ADR. Enersis slipped 7/32 to 19 3/8.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

upgraded

Fiat

(FIA)

to market perform from underperform. Fiat fell 1 5/16 to 29 5/8.

Goldman Sachs

started coverage of

Homestore.com

(HOMS)

with a market outperform rating. Homestore.com popped 3 3/8, or 6.5%, to 54 15/16.

Bear Sterns

began coverage of

Jack In The Box

(JBX)

with a buy rating and a price target of 30. Jack In The Box climbed 1 13/16, or 9%, to 21 3/4.

Goldman Sachs upped its 2000 earnings estimate for

Kemet

(KEM) - Get Report

to $1.58 from $1.30 and its 2001 earnings estimate to $3.10 from $2.06 per share. Kemet mounted 3 7/8, or 5.6%, to 72 3/8.

Lehman Brothers upped its 12-month price target on

Kulicke & Soffa

(KLIC) - Get Report

to 98 from 82. Kulicke & Soffa stumbled 2 5/16 to 71 7/8.

Warburg Dillon Read initiated coverage of

Magic Software

(MGIC) - Get Report

at buy with a price target of 44. Magic Software gained 1/8 to 23 1/8.

DLJ started coverage of

Marsh & McLennan

(MMC) - Get Report

with a buy rating. Marsh & McLennan shot up 10 15/16, or 13.7%, to 90 9/16.

J.P. Morgan began coverage of

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

with a buy rating. McDonald's mounted 2, or 6.5%, to 32 1/2.

Morgan Stanley raised its rating on four trucking companies. It boosted

M.S. Carriers

(MSCA)

U.S. Xpress

(XPRSA)

and

Swift Transport

(SWFT)

to strong buy from outperform. The firm raised

J.B. Hunt

(JBHT) - Get Report

to strong buy from neutral.

M.S. Carriers tacked on 1 1/2, or 6.3%, to 25; US Xpress jumped 1 1/16, or 14.2%, to 8 1/2; while Swift Transport lifted 1 15/16, or 12.2%, to 17 3/4 and J.B. Hunt added 5/8 to 15.

PaineWebber boosted

Nortel Networks'

(NT)

price target to 175 from 135. Nortel Networks' slipped 3 3/4 to 120 1/8.

Salomon Smith Barney

upped

Oracle's

(ORCL) - Get Report

price target to 100 from 85. Oracle edged up 1 5/8 to 78 5/8.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter lifted

Partner Communications'

(PTNR) - Get Report

price target to $28.80 from $24.70. Partner Communications declined 11/16 to 19 7/8.

Wit Soundview raised its price target for

Photon Dynamics

(PHTN)

to 90 from 75. Photon Dynamics tumbled 3 1/8 to 74 3/8.

Merrill Lynch

began coverage of

Pride

(PDE)

as a near-term accumulate and a long-term buy. The firm set a 12-month price target of 21. Pride mounted 1/16 to 17 1/2.

Morgan Stanley began coverage of

Scientific-Atlanta

(SFA)

with an outperform rating and price target of 180. Scientific-Atlantic sank 21 15/16, or 14.8%, to 126.

Wit Soundview

raised

Seagate

(SEG)

to buy from hold, and set a long-term price target of 90. Seagate shed 5 5/16, or 8.1%, to 59 3/4.

J.P. Morgan started coverage of

Tricon Global

(YUM) - Get Report

with a market perform rating. Tricon Global hopped 2, or 7.5%, to 28 1/2.

Merrill Lynch

upgraded

Thomas & Betts

(TNB)

to near-term buy from neutral. Thomas & Betts advanced 3 1/16, or 14.8%, to 23 3/4.

U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray

said it cut

Tyson Foods

(TSN) - Get Report

to neutral from strong buy. Tyson Foods skidded 5/16 to 9.

PaineWebber raised

UAL

(UAL) - Get Report

to buy from attractive. UAL shot up 5 7/16, or 11.6%, to 52 1/4.

J.P. Morgan initiated coverage of

Wendy's

(WEN) - Get Report

with a buy rating. Wendy's gained 1 3/4, or 11.6%, to 16 3/4.

Morgan Stanley initiated coverage of

Whittman-Hart

(WHIT)

with an outperform rating and a price target of 66. Whittman-Hart shed 1 11/16 to 44 1/16.

Miscellany

A.G Edwards

said its investment policy committee decided to reduce its exposure to the stock market slightly and raise cash. The firm now recommends that assets in a model portfolio be 55% stocks, 35% bonds and 10% cash. Previously, the firm recommended a 5% cash allocation.

Federal-Mogul

(FMO) - Get Report

lost 1 1/4, or 8.2%, to 13 15/16 after it said it would cut 1,500 jobs, close 22 North American warehouses and consolidate 18 manufacturing and distribution centers overseas in a restructuring.

Sears

(S) - Get Report

is quietly searching for a successor to long-serving chairman, CEO and president Arthur Martinez,

The Wall Street Journal

reported, citing sources familiar with the situation. According to the story, Martinez instigated the search and is part of the process.

Sears said it retained a firm to find a successor for Martinez. The shares jumped 15/16 to 29 1/16.

Briggs & Stratton

(BGG) - Get Report

would not comment on its stock jump 4 7/8, or 14%, to 39 5/8 during today's trading session, said the

New York Stock Exchange

.

Enzo Biochem

(ENZ) - Get Report

popped 3 1/4 to 80 1/4 after it said it received a patent from the

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

that covers nucleic acid compositions and methods for editing and correcting certain abnormalities in genes.

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

fell 1 5/8 to 107 after it said it unveiled two products with record data-storage capacity.

Metris

(MXT)

, a direct marketing concern, said its chairman, Ted Deikel, is retiring effective May 8. Metris mounted 4 1/4, or 14.1%, to 34 1/4.

Praxair

(PX)

advanced 3 5/8, or 10.7%, to 37 1/4 after it said that John A. Clerico, executive vice president, chief financial officer and a Praxair director, will step down from those posts effective April 1. Clerico will become CEO of a new Internet-based concern to be initially funded and sponsored by Praxair.

The Heard on the Street column in the

Journal

said that after a short flurry of activity in the wake of Monday's announcement that

Tribune

(TRB)

is buying

Times Mirror

(TMC)

, the stocks of newspaper publishers since then haven't done much. The column quotes Lee Westerfield, publishing analyst at

PaineWebber

, as saying: "Nothing about this deal forces anyone else to sell." Tribune edged up 5/8 to 34 1/16, while Times Mirror tacked on 15/16 to 89 3/16.