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Stocks Close Solidly Higher Ahead of Tomorrow's FOMC Meeting

The move up came amid of slew of mergers-and-acquisitions news.

Tomorrow is a special day. It's the

Federal Open Market Committee

meeting, which is a lot like an elementary school parent-teacher conference, only billions of dollars are at stake. The kids are all right. Everything is up heading into the meeting.

Tell us what you think on our

message boards.

What will tomorrow bring? Well, the FOMC is expected to leave interest rates alone. The especially cautious are warning that the committee will lean toward tightening. This sentiment, combined with Friday's positive report on the manufacturing sector, has paranoia buzzing about a rate hike in November.

Which sector socked in the most gains? Try the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

, or SOX, which finished up 4.6%, or 23.23, to 531.67. Chipmakers were the champions.

Today featured more mergers than Piccadilly Circus during rush hour.

The most recent:

TV Guide's

(TVGIA)

$9.2 billion merger with

Gemstar

(GMST)

TheStreet Recommends

, which leaves the television-listings leader with a 45% stake in the new venture, called

TV Guide International

. The market tuned in. TV Guide jumped 4 3/16, or 10.1%, to 15 15/16. Gemstar fell 7 1/2, or 9.0%, to 76 3/16.

The most intriguing:

Sprint

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and its two suitors,

BellSouth

(BLS)

and

MCI WorldCom

(WCOM)

.

The Wall Street Journal

reported that BellSouth's last-minute bid of $72 billion, which topped MCI's bid, sent Sprint's board into a special meeting last night. Nonetheless, the board emerged and unanimously decided in favor of MCI. Sprint rose 3, or 5.3%, to 60. MCI rose 1 1/8 to 71 5/8. BellSouth fell south, down 2 11/16, or 5.9%, to 42 11/16.

The least static:

Clear Channel Communications'

(CCU) - Get Compania Cervecerias Unidas S.A. Sponsored ADR Report

merger with

AMFM

(AMF)

. The $17.4 billion stock swap has the two pretty much equal. One AMFM share is worth 0.94 of a Clear share. AMFM was up 1 5/16, or 2.1%, to 65 3/16. Clear Channel dropped 3 11/16, or 4.6%, to 76 11/16.

The most active:

America Online

(AOL)

may not have merged, but it sure was busy with joint ventures. First, the company signed a multi-year e-commerce agreement with

Travelocity.com

(TSG) - Get Stars Group Inc. Report

to provide all travel reservations made through AOL. Then, AOL division

ICQ

inked a deal with

Net2Phone

(NTOP)

to launch a pre-paid "virtual calling card" that would enable callers to make an actual call though Net2Phone's network. All the moving and shaking left AOL, well, unmoved. It was up 3/4 to 108 5/8. Travelocity soared 6 1/8, or 14.1%, to 49 1/2. Net2Phone went up2day and rose 4 3/16, or 8.0%, to 56 9/16.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, advancers were beating decliners 1,758 to 1,244 on 798 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, winners were beating losers 2,046 to 1,875 on 904 million shares.

On the NYSE, 146 issues had set new 52-week lows while 48 had touched new highs. On the Nasdaq, 114 issues had set new 52-week lows while new highs totaled 79.

On the Big Board,

Mattel

(MAT) - Get Mattel, Inc. Report

was the most active, with 29.9 million shares changing hands. It was down 5 1/8, or 30.4%, to 11 3/4.

On the Nasdaq,

Intel

(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation (INTC) Report

was most active, with 20.4 million shares changing hands. It was up 2 1/16, or 2.8%, to 77.

Earlier...

3:05 p.m.: Stocks Remain Well in Positive Territory Ahead of Tomorrow's FOMC Meeting

Major market averages were smiling heading into the final hour of trading, holding on to most of their intraday gains amid a slew of merger-and-acquisition news and ahead of tomorrow's

Federal Open Market Committee

meeting.

2:08 p.m.: Stocks Remain Solidly Higher

Piling on to an already full slate of merger-and-acquisition news,

Gemstar International Group

(GMST)

said this afternoon it is buying

TV Guide

(TVGIA)

.

1:10 p.m.: Midday Musings: Market Players Buy Boldly Ahead of FOMC Meeting

11:57 a.m.: Stocks Zoom to Session Highs Ahead of Tomorrow's FOMC Meeting

Major stock proxies were trading around their session highs ahead of tomorrow's get-together of the

Federal Open Market Committee

.

10:54 a.m.: Stocks Solidly Higher After Friday's Lackluster Trading

Kicking off the week on a positive note, stocks were solidly higher at midmorning after mostly stumbling on Friday.

10:03 a.m.: Stocks Open Modestly Higher

Stocks opened higher amid some merger-and-acquisition news, including reports that

BellSouth

(BLS)

, in addition to

MCI WorldCom

(WCOM)

, have made offers to buy

Sprint

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.