Publish date:

Friday, January 8, 1999

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


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.


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



Finova Group

(FNV) - Get Franco-Nevada Corporation Report

agreed to acquire small-business-loan originator

Sirrom Capital

(SIR) - Get Select Income REIT Report

in a stock swap worth about $379 million.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter



Lehman Brothers


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

Rite Aid

(RAD) - Get Rite Aid Corporation Report


General Nutrition


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

For more news on companies and stocks, click



Software maker



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

TheStreet Recommends

Lucent Technologies


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


(TEF) - Get Telefonica SA Sponsored ADR Report

holds in phone equipment manufacturer




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

International Business Machines

(IBM) - Get International Business Machines (IBM) Report




For more tech news and commentary, click



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


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.


Bank of England

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


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


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.



John Thompson

likely will announce his resignation from

Georgetown University