A stronger-than-expected Employment Cost Index report proved painful for financial stocks, which spent a good part of this week trying to climb. American Express (AXP) - Get Report was sliding 2 13/16 to 160 1/8, while J.P. Morgan (JPM) - Get Report was off 3 11/16 to 121 15/16, both weighing heavily on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures



is in early talks about taking a minority stake in

AOL Europe

, the Friday edition of the

Financial Times

reported. AOL Europe is half owned by

America Online


and half by German media group


. While an equity stake in AOL Europe would not block

Vodafone AirTouch's

(VOD) - Get Report

offer, it would help Mannesmann's arguments that it could become dominant in the European Internet market, the


said. Shares of AOL were sliding 1 7/8 while Vodafone was off 9/16 to 55 3/8.

The government has decided to postpone a decision on whether to block

BP Amoco's


$30 billion takeover of

Atlantic Richfield

(ARC) - Get Report

after the companies made a new offer to divest further assets,

The New York Times

reported, citing people involved in the discussions. BP Amoco inched up 3/16 to 54 5/16 while Atlantic Richfield added 2 3/8 to 78 3/4.



reported that the

Federal Trade Commission

had been poised to approve a staff recommendation to seek a court order to block the merger at a hearing of the FTC commissioners Friday morning. However, after a new plan was pushed forth by BP Amoco's CEO in a talk with the FTC chairman, the agency agreed to hold off the meeting until Monday to spend some time looking at the proposal, the



Merger partners

Bell Atlantic




(GTE) - Get Report

said after yesterday's close that it has offered, as expected, to spin off most of GTE's Internet business to gain regulatory approval for their deal. Bell fell 3/8 to 57 7/8 while GTE lost 5/16 to 68 5/16.

Separately, Bell Atlantic said it won a contract worth up to $1.4 billion from the

Government Services Administration

, to provide telecommunication services to U.S. federal government agencies in the Washington area.


(CBS) - Get Report

talks to buy

Chris-Craft Industries


, a TV station group, are intensifying again,

The Wall Street Journal

reported, citing people familiar with the matter. CBS dropped 3 5/16, or 5.3%, to 58 5/8, while Chris Craft slipped 5/16 to 74 11/16. The newspaper reported that the deal could be valued at as much as $3.5 billion. The newspaper reported that CBS, which has agreed to be bought out by


(VIA) - Get Report

, is pursuing the deal on behalf of both the companies. Shares of Viacom slipped 2 7/8 to 56 3/4.

The CBS-Chris-Craft talks were also highlighted in an item in the Inside Wall Street column in

Business Week

, the column penned by Gene Marcial. Marcial wrote that CBS is getting close to a deal with Chris-Craft. The column cites Mario Gabelli, whose firm owns about 15% of Chris-Craft shares, as figuring Chris-Craft's stock would be worth at least $3.3 billion in a takeover, or $80 a share. Chris-Craft closed yesterday at 75.



slipped 5/8 to 6 1/8 after it said it has agreed to acquire



. SPR climbed 3/16 to 5 15/16.



, parent of



, said it plans to ditch ZDNet's tracking-stock status and make it a stand-alone independent Internet company. Shares of Ziff-Davis inched up 1/8 to 18 15/16 while ZDNet was falling 13/16 to 29 1/4.

The tracking-stock structure will be scuttled by merging Ziff-Davis into a newly formed subsidiary, so that all current holders of Ziff-Davis and ZDNet stock will hold their investments through a single class of ordinary common stock. The surviving company will be renamed ZDNet Inc., and Ziff-Davis expects to complete the merger in the second quarter.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews


Earnings estimates from First Call/Thomson Financial; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified.


Eastman Chemical

(EMN) - Get Report

lost 3 3/8, or 7.9%, to 39 7/16 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 20 cents a share, far short of the 11-analyst estimate of 37 cents, but up from the year-ago 14 cents.



popped 5 7/8, or 9%, to 71 1/2 after it posted net income in the fourth quarter of a little more than $730 million, up from the year-ago total of nearly $550 million. The company said it expects sales to rise by more than 20% in 2000 and substantial growth in earnings.


(G) - Get Report

lost 1 1/8 to 38 5/8 after it posted, after yesterday's close, fourth-quarter earnings of 32 cents a share, in line with the lowered 13-analyst

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimate, but down from the year-ago 39 cents. Fourth-quarter sales were $3.03 billion, down 4% from $3.17 billion in the year-ago period. Gillette said that excluding unfavorable foreign exchange rates, sales were "virtually unchanged" compared with the year-ago period.

Lockheed Martin

(LMT) - Get Report

lost 1/8 to 19 5/16 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings excluding items of 59 cents a share, in line with the 14-analyst estimate, but down from the year-ago earnings of 75 cents a share, which excludes items. In addition, Lockheed's board approved management's recommendation to cut the dividend to a quarterly payment of 11 cents a share from 22 cents, payable March 31, to shareholders of record on March 6.


joint newsroom wrote about Lockheed's restructuring plans in a story


WPS Resources

(WPS) - Get Report

slipped 3/16 to 25 13/16 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 48 cents, missing the five-analyst estimate of 51 cents, but up from the year-ago 24 cents.

In other earnings news:

Offerings and stock actions

Allegiance Telecom


dropped 4 7/8 to 106 1/8 after it priced a 10 million-share offering at $105 a share.



jumped 5 3/8, or 7%, to 82 1/2 after it said it set a 3-for-2 stock split. The company posted fourth-quarter earnings of 22 cents a share, beating the seven analyst estimate of 16 cents and up from the year-ago loss of 26 cents.

Westwood One


climbed 7/8 to 65 7/16 after it set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Analyst actions


started coverage of


(AMZN) - Get Report

with a neutral rating and set a price target of 74. Shares of Amazon.com were stumbling 6 9/16, or 9.8%, to 60 7/16.

Banc of America

cut its rating on

Associates First Capital


to market performer from buy. Shares of Associates First Capital were skidding 2 1/4, or 10%, to 20 1/18.

Credit Suisse First Boston

raised its first-quarter loss estimate on



to 49 cents a share from 37 cents. Shares of Autoweb were sliding 3/16 to 10 5/16.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

upped its rating on



to strong buy from buy. Shares of Bowater were hopping 3 3/8, or 6.6%, to 54 3/8.

US Bancorp Piper Jaffray

upped its rating on


(CERN) - Get Report

to strong buy from buy. Shares of Cerner were lifting 2 15/16, or 15.4%, to 22 1/4.

Lehman Brothers

upped its price target on

Comverse Technology


to 175 from 150. Shares of Comverse Technology were gaining 7 5/8, or 5.4%, to 144.


rolled out coverage of



with a buy rating and a price target of 20. Shares of Fogdog were bouncing 15/16, or 9.2%, to 11 1/16.

Bear Stearns

raised its fiscal 2000 loss estimate for

Digital River

(DRIV) - Get Report

to $1.44 a share from 66 cents. Shares of Digital River slipped 1 7/8, or 5.8%, to 30 7/16.

CSFB raised its rating on



to a buy rating and set a price target of 75.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

raised its rating on the stock to outperform from neutral. Shares of Documentum were tacking on 10 1/4, or 17.8%, to 67 5/8.

CSFB upped its fiscal 2000 EPS estimate on



to $2.20 a share from $1.15. Shares of Electroglas were climbing 1 3/4, or 5.8%, to 32 1/8.

ING Barings

upped its rating on



to strong buy from buy. Shares of Guidant were moving up 4 7/16, or 9.5%, to 50 3/4.

CSFB upped its price target on



to 147 from 72. Shares of Informatica were losing 12 3/4, or 12.2%, to 91 1/4.

CSFB raised its fiscal 2000 loss estimate on

InterTrust Technologies


to $1.08 a share from 89 cents and its fiscal 2000 loss estimate to 47 cents a share from 26 cents. Shares of InterTrust Technologies were tacking on 2 1/4 to 174 13/16.

Robertson Stephens

raised its fiscal 2000 EPS estimates on

Silicon Image


to 10 cents a share and its fiscal 2001 estimates to 34 cents a share from 23 cents. Shares of Silicon Image were bouncing 8 1/4, or 10.3%, to 88.

Goldman Sachs

raised its rating on

Telecom Italia


to market outperform from market performer. Shares of Telecom Italia were edging up 7/8 to 164.

Merrill Lynch

upped its fiscal 2000 estimates on



to 54 cents a share from 51 cents and set a 2001 EPS estimate of 85 cents a share. Merrill also upped its long-term rating on the stock to buy from accumulate. Shares of Transwitch were mounting 6 3/8, or 13.7%, to 54 1/2.

CSFB upped its fiscal 2000 EPS estimates on

Veritas Software

(VRTS) - Get Report

to 74 cents a share from 65 cents.

Goldman Sachs

added the stock to its recommended list, up from its market outperform rating. Shares of Veritas Software were climbing 2 1/16 to 159 1/4.

Goldman raised its loss estimates on



to 72 cents a share from 47 cents. Shares of Webvan were adding 1 13/16, or 13.3%, to 15 1/2.


In addition to the CBS/Chris-Craft item in the Inside Wall Street column in

Business Week

, the column offered up a bullish piece on Veritas Software. The column cites Jay Nakahara, technology research chief for


, who says that despite Veritas' stock surge, he thinks the stock is still underpriced. According to the column, Nakahara expects Veritas to earn $200 million, or 75 cents a share in 2000, compared to Wall Street's expectation of $193 million, or 65 cents, and he sees the stock hitting 200 this year.

Elsewhere, the column offers up a positive story on



. Shares of Mail.com were climbing 13/16, or 5.2%, to 16 5/16.