Financial stocks got a boost from mild economic data this morning. Midday highfliers included

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

up 9 7/16, or 12.2%, to 85 11/16 and

Lehman Brothers

(LEH)

was lifting 7 11/6, or 9.4%, to 89 5/16. The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

was moving up 7.9%.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Crestline Capital

(CLJ)

climbed 3/16 to 18 5/8 after it said it will form a joint venture with

Bedrock Partners II

. The companies plan to spend $250 million to acquire and renovate 15 to 20 hotels over the next two to three years. Crestline will provide about 10% of the equity for the joint venture, while the

Citadel Group

will raise an additional $75 million of third party equity for the fund.

Crestline said in a release the joint venture plans to acquire mid-priced properties with "significant turnaround potential," renovate the properties and then reposition the hotels as upscale properties.

Crestline Capital's management division,

Crestline Hotels & Resorts

, will manage most or all of the hotels.

CarrAmerica Realty

(CRE)

rose 9/16 to 25 1/2 after it announced it signed a non-binding letter of intent for a development joint venture valued at about $422 million. CarrAmerica is expected to have a 35% stake in the joint venture.

Unilever

(UL) - Get Report

is refuting a report by

The Wall Street Journal

that says the company quietly upped its bid for

Bestfoods

(BFO) - Get Report

to $70 a share from $66. Unilever was off 3/8 to 26 3/8, while Bestfoods was falling 1 7/16 to 64 7/16.

A Unilever spokesman told

Reuters

the companies haven't engaged in formal talks since the original bid was placed in early May, but he said that didn't rule out informal "conversations."

Bestfoods rejected Unilever's first offer as inadequate.

AMR's

(AMR)

lost 1 1/8 to 28 5/16 after reports that its

American Airlines

unit is said to be in talks about making a possible bid for

Northwest Airlines

(NWAC)

, according to St. Paul, Minn.-based television station KSTP-TV, citing "well-placed sources." Northwest was lately rising 5 3/4, or 19.8%, to 24 13/16.

The station, which listed its report on its Web site www.kstp.com, said that American Airlines chief executive Don Carty and Northwest president and chief executive John Dasburg have discussed a possible merger and that one or more merger announcements could be made public in the coming days.

American Airlines, the world's second-largest airline, is a unit of Fort Worth, Texas-based AMR Corp. Northwest is based in St. Paul.

The

Federal Communications Commission

is set to approve

AT&T's

(T) - Get Report

proposed acquisition of

MediaOne

(UMG)

, reported in

The Wall Street Journal

AT&T was rising 1 to 35 15/16 and MediaOne popped 1 1/4 to 68 5/8.

According to the

Journal

, AT&T will have to sell either its stake in

Liberty Media

(LMGA)

, MediaOne's 25% interest in

Time Warner Entertainment

(TWX)

or individual cable systems. Liberty Media was lately rising 1 129/264 to 46 while Time Warner tacked on 4 1/4, or 5.5% to 82 1/4.

iVillage

(IVIL)

edged up 13/64 to 8 1/8 after it said it negotiating the sale of its e-commerce division,

iBaby

, to compete with Web retailer

BabyGear.com

. For more, take a look at the

coverage out of

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com's

joint newsroom.

GE Medical Systems, a unit of

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

, agreed to buy

Lunar

(LUNR)

in a stock swap worth about $150 million. GE was up 3/8 while Lunar was lifting 5 1/4, or 47.2%, to 16 3/8. GE will determine the actual number of shares it will swap based on trading prices prior to closing the transaction, which the companies expect to occur by the third quarter.

GE Medical Systems agreed to pay $17 a share in stock. Madison, Wis.-based Lunar, which makes technology for assessing osteoporosis and metabolic bone diseases, had 8.6 million shares outstanding as of April 26, so the total value of the transaction amounts to $146.2 million.

The transaction is subject to Lunar shareholder and government approval. Lunar chairman and CEO Richard Mazess agreed to vote his shares, representing about 30% of Lunar's outstanding shares, in favor of the transaction. The boards of both GE and Lunar approved the merger.

Jacobs Engineering

(JEC) - Get Report

rose 1 3/16 to 34 11/16 after it signed a definitive sale agreement with

Stone & Webster

in which Jacobs will acquire substantially all of Stone & Webster's assets in exchange for $150 million in cash and stock and the assumption of nearly all Stone & Webster's liabilities shown on its March balance sheet, standby letters of credit, and its liabilities under a new credit facility from Jacobs entered into on May 9, pursuant to which up to $50 million of credit is being made available to enable Stone & Webster to operate its businesses until the asset sale is completed.

As a condition of the proposed transaction, Stone & Webster, which expects to continue operating its businesses in the normal course during the reorganization process, will be seeking bankruptcy court approval of the asset sale and credit agreement.

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Analyst actions

Upgrades

GPU

(GPU)

gre 1/16 to 29 5/16: UP to outperform from hold at

ABN Amro

.

Samina

(SANM) - Get Report

jumped 4 11/16, or 6.8%, to 73 5/8 : fiscal 2000 EPS UP to $1.36 from $1.38 a share at

Merrill Lynch

.

Downgrades

Dana

(DCN)

slipped 3/16 to 25 5/16: second-quarter EPS DOWN to $1.04 a share from $1.14 at

Lehman Brothers

.

Gadzooks

(GADZ)

tumbled 5/8, or 6.1%, to 9 11/16: DOWN to market performer from buy at

Banc of America

.

Kmart

(KM)

lost 1/8 to 8 1/2: second-quarter earnings estimates DOWN to 23 cents from 26 cents at

Merrill Lynch

; fiscal 2000 earnings estimates DOWN to $1.19 a share from $1.20; fiscal 2001 earnings estimates DOWN to $1.40 from $1.43.

Progressive

(PGR) - Get Report

was off 4 11/16 to 93: DOWN to buy from strong buy at

Credit Suisse First Boston

Initiations

chinadot.com

(CHINA)

shot up 4 5/8, or 19%, to 28 7/16: NEW intermediates accumulate, long-term buy rating.

Dianon

(DIAN)

grew 3 9/16, or 15%, to 27 1/8: NEW buy at

UBS Warburg

; price target of 32.

Homestore.com

(HOMS)

gained 2 9/64, or 7.7%, to 29 57/64: NEW strong buy at

Thomas Weisel

by analyst Jim Fowler.

Group Moves

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

initiated coverage of eight staffing companies:

  • AHL Services (AHLS) as a buy; price target: 15. AHL Services shares were up 13 /32, or 5.5%, to 7 3/4.
  • Charles River Associates (CRAI) - Get Report as a buy; price target: 30. Charles River shares grew 1/2 to 18 7/16.
  • Corporate Executive Board (EXBD) as a strong buy; price target: 70. The company's shares hopped 1 1/4 to 57 1/4.
  • Interim Services (IS) as a strong buy; price target: 30. Shares were up 1 1/4, or 6.0%, to 22 1/4.
  • Manpower (MAN) - Get Report as a strong buy; price target: 42. Manpower grew 3/4 to 36 1/4.
  • NCO Group (NCOG) as a strong buy; price target: 60. NCO Groups shares gained 1 13/16, or 7.9%, to 24 7/8.
  • On Assignment (ASGN) - Get Report as a market perform; price target: 28. The stock blimbed 1 11/16, or 6.3%, to 28 11/16.
  • Robert Half (RHI) - Get Report as a strong buy; price target: 75. Robert Half shares popped 1 7/8 to 63 1/2.

ABN Amro

analyst Eugene Nowak raised 2000 and 2001 EPS estimates for leading energy firms to reflect strong commodity prices. Companies mentioned in the report include:

  • ExxonMobil (XOM) - Get Report : 2000 EPS UP to $4.00 from $3.85 and 2001 EPS up to $4.10 from $3.95. ExxonMobil was off 2 3/16 to 80 3/4.
  • Chevron (CHV) : 2000 EPS UP to $6.50 from $6.10 and 2001 EPS up to $5.75 from $5.55. Shares lost 1 5/8 to 89 3/8.
  • Kerr-McGee (KMG) : 2000 EPS UP to $6.50 from $5.95 and 2001 EPS up to $5.00 from $4.80. Shares fell 1 3/8 to 58 3/8.
  • Phillips Petroleum (P) : 2000 EPS up to $5.75 from $5.20 and 2001 EPS up to $5.10 from $4.60. It was off 2 to 55.
  • Texaco (TX) - Get Report: 2000 EPS up to $4.40 from $4.05 and 2001 EPS up to $4.10 from $3.80. The stock gained 1 1/16 to 54 15/16.
  • Amerada Hess (AHC) - Get Report: 2000 EPS up to $7.75 from $7.50 and 2001 EPS up to $5.70 from $5.30. Amerada Hess was down 2 7/8 to 63 7/16.
  • Unocal (UCL) : 2000 EPS up to $2.50 from $2.00 and 2001 EPS up to $2.40 from $1.95. Unocal lost 1 5/16 to 36 7/16.

UBS Warburg upgraded three oil and gas companies:

Louis Dreyfus

(LD) - Get Report

: UP to buy from hold at

UBS Warburg

. Shares were off 9/16 to 31 7/8.

Newfield

(NFX)

slipped 5/8 to 39 5/8: UP to buy from hold at UBS Warburg.

Forest Oil

(FST)

edged off 1/16 to 15 5/8: UP to buy from hold.

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Offerings and stock actions

Interwoven

(IWOV)

hopped 13 3/4, or 20.2%, to 81 13/16 after it set a 2-for-1 stock split.

King Pharmaceuticals

(KG)

climbed 13/16 to 55 3/4 after it announced a three-for-two stock split for shareholders of record as of June 12, to be distributed June 21.

The company makes generic and brand-name drugs and sells its branded products through subsidiary Monarch Pharmaceuticals.

SkyStream Networks

(SSNW)

, which sells networking products that connect the Internet to cable, satellite and digital television networks, withdrew its proposed $93.15 million IPO, citing market conditions. The offering was supposed to be managed by

Goldman Sachs

,

Robertson Stephens

and

Dain Rauscher Wessels

.

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Miscellany

Virgin Group

(VIRGY)

was rising 5/16, or 8.8%, to 3 7/8 after it's

Virgin Express

unit agreed to lease eight

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

aircraft for a period of eight years from

GE Capital Aviation Services

, a unit of General Electric. The aircraft are scheduled for delivery between July 2001 and April 2003. Boeing was lately off 1/4 to 39 15/16.

The airline said it placed a total of 11 lease orders for Boeing 737-700 planes valued at about $440 million. Another three 737-700s will be leased for a period of eight years from

International Lease Finance

, a subsidiary of

American International Group

(AIG) - Get Report

. Two of these aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2002 and one in 2003. American International Group rose 1 3/4 to 119.

Genomics company

Gene Logic

(GLGC)

gained 1 3/4, or 6.9%, to 27 1/4 after it said Mark Gessler, its president and COO since January 1999, will succeed Michael Brennan as its CEO, effective June 8.

Brennan, a founder of the company and CEO since it began in 1995, will continue to serve as chairman and will still play a role in the company's development.

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