Friday, January 8, 1999

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.3% for December, and Finova Group agreed to acquire Sirrom Capital.
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Markets

At 9 a.m. EST,

S&P 500

futures were up 7.9, about more than 6 points over fair value, indicating a positive open.

The

Chicago Board Options Exchange

yesterday called off its merger with the

Pacific Exchange

. Check out Dan Colarusso's

take on the deal's collapse.

European bourses were trading modestly higher at midday.

Asian markets closed mixed, with Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

up 29.13 to 10,772.70 and Japan's

Nikkei 225

off 144.75 to 13,391.81.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

Finova Group

(FNV) - Get Report

agreed to acquire small-business-loan originator

Sirrom Capital

(SIR) - Get Report

in a stock swap worth about $379 million.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

(MWD)

and

Lehman Brothers

(LEH)

both reported fourth-quarter earnings far above Wall Street expectations.

Rite Aid

(RAD) - Get Report

and

General Nutrition

(GNCI)

have formed an alliance to make and market vitamins and nutritional supplements.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

Software maker

Compuware

(CPWR)

said it will split its stock 2-for-1 for shareholders of record Jan. 26, without setting a date for the split.

Lucent Technologies

(LU)

reportedly is in talks to buy the 24.4% stake that Spain's

Telefonica

(TEF) - Get Report

holds in phone equipment manufacturer

Amper

.

Toshiba

said that it has produced a DRAM chip 40% smaller than present chips in cooperation with

International Business Machines

(IBM) - Get Report

and

Siemens

.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

International

Germany's unemployment rate rose to 10.8% in December from 10.7% the previous month, raising fears about the strength of Europe's flagship economy.

German cellular phone giant

Mannesmann

said its 1998 pretax profit rose 50%.

Three of Hong Kong's largest banks cut their prime rates by 25 basis points to 8.75% in an effort to spur lending.

The

Bank of England

cut its benchmark interest rate yesterday to 6.0% in anticipation of worsening domestic and international economic conditions.

The

World Bank

yesterday approved $1.01 billion in loans to Brazil as part of a $41.5 billion emergency package put together by the

International Monetary Fund

in November. The loans came as Brazil threatened to cut off funding to its second-largest state, Minas Geras, after the state said it would stop making debt payments to the federal government for three months.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

General News

Former Tennessee governor

Lamar Alexander

reportedly will form a residential exploratory committee today.

Civil unrest continues in Indonesia, where thousands of people rioted in the town of Karawang today.

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.3% for the month of December, according to government figures.

Elsewhere

Coach

John Thompson

likely will announce his resignation from

Georgetown University

today.