It's a newsy midday, but you wouldn't know it from the stock and bond markets.

Leading the news, at long last, is the largest corporate merger in U.S. history:

MCI

(MCIC)

agreed to be acquired by

WorldCom

(WCOM)

for $51 per share in stock and cash -- an amazing $37 billion.

GTE

(GTE) - Get Report

yesterday upped its original cash offer of $40 per share to $45, according to

Reuters

, but it wasn't enough.

The news sent MCI soaring 4 7/8, or 13.2%, to 41 11/16 by 12:20 p.m. EST. WorldCom was down 1 3/4 to 31 7/16, while GTE was up 15/16 to 44 9/16.

British Telecommunications

(BTY)

said it absolutely won't raise its $80-per-share offer for

ITT

(ITT) - Get Report

to counter an $85-per-share bid from

Starwood Lodging Trust

(HOT)

. And Hilton continues to maintain that it is "gone" if its board slate isn't chosen Wednesday to replace ITT's board at ITT's shareholder meeting. The prospect of no more last-bid silliness (remember Hilton's absolutely final $70 and $55 bids?) seems to have peeved the arbitrageurs, as ITT was down 2 5/16 to 78, Starwood was down 1 15/16 to 55 7/8 and Hilton was down 1/4 to 31 1/4.

None of the multibillion-dollar excitement is moving the broader market, however, as the prospect of tomorrow's bond-market closure for Veterans' Day has traders holding back and sitting tight. Around 12:20 p.m. EST, the benchmark 30-year Treasury bond was off a mere 1/16 to 99 13/32 in price to yield 6.17%.

With little bond activity, the major equity exchanges were posting dampened volume figures and the major indices weren't moving much. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 16 to 7597, the broad

S&P 500

was up a little more than 1 to 929, the tech-spangled

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 3 to 1605 and the small-cap

Russell 2000

was up 2 to 437.

"You've got a dearth of economic news due out until the

Federal Open Market Committee

meets Wednesday," noted Dan Baker, vice president of equity trading at

Jensen Securities

in Tigard, Ore. "The

bond supply's out of the way from last week. Tomorrow's kind of a pseudo-holiday. I don't think there's a ton to be trading off of today."

Speaking of trading, the

White House

early this morning gave up on its quixotic effort to pass fast-track trade negotiation authority. The measure, which would prevent

Congress

from amending the administration's trade deals, was doomed to certain failure in the

House of Representatives

. "What we're going to do now is regroup a little bit and find a way to succeed,"

President Clinton

said at a news conference.

Charles Crane, chief market strategist at

Key Asset Management

, said fast track's passage wouldn't have had the huge effect some on Wall Street were looking for, and neither will its postponement. "I hadn't really been focusing on fast track for the growth of multiples," he said. "It could have provided an incremental nudge to anticipated growth, all else being equal. However, events of recent weeks have meant all things are not equal."

The events -- the plunging stock markets and collapsing currencies of Southeast Asia -- will do more damage to multinationals' earnings than fast track could have overcome, Crane said. On the brighter side, he added, "There's plenty of smaller and midsized companies which are almost exclusively domestic, and those companies are going to do just fine over the next couple of years."