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Yahoo! (YHOO) and eBay (EBAY) 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


, 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.


reported that sources said negotiations heated up after

America Online


said it would buy

Time Warner


, 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.



, 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 Plastics unit and

Energy Conversions Devices


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.


European Commission

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

Pharmacia & Upjohn







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.



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

Atlantic Richfield


, 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


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


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.




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.



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


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


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.



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.

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


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


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.



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.



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



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

Cardinal Health


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


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


through a $520 million private placement offering.

Robertson Stephens

priced a 4.5 million-share IPO for



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



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




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

Warburg Dillon Read




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


lowered its price target on


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

ING Barings

analyst Paul Kelly initiated coverage of

Celera Genomics


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

Banc of America Securities




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

Lehman Brothers


Cordant Technologies


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

J.P. Morgan

started coverage of


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

J.P. Morgan began coverage of



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




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

Goldman Sachs

started coverage of


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

Bear Sterns

began coverage of

Jack In The Box


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



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


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

Warburg Dillon Read initiated coverage of

Magic Software


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

DLJ started coverage of

Marsh & McLennan


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

J.P. Morgan began coverage of



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


U.S. Xpress



Swift Transport


to strong buy from outperform. The firm raised

J.B. Hunt


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'


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

Salomon Smith Barney




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

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter lifted

Partner Communications'


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


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

Merrill Lynch

began coverage of



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



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

Wit Soundview




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


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

Merrill Lynch


Thomas & Betts


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


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

PaineWebber raised



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

J.P. Morgan initiated coverage of



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

Morgan Stanley initiated coverage of



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


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.



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.



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


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


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.



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



, 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.



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


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



is buying

Times Mirror


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


, 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.