Friday, July 16, 1999

Microsoft spurs the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to record highs; U S West's board is reportedly expected to accept Qwest's marriage proposal tonight.
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Markets

Who needs the Net when you've got

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

?

Not the

S&P 500

, which surged 9.16 to a record 1418.78 largely on the strength of Softee, which itself picked up 5 1/16, or 5.4%, to 99 7/16 amid both big news and speculation (see below).

And certainly not the

Nasdaq Composite Index

, which powered forward another 25.13 to a record 2864.50, thanks to its numero uno component. Mister Softee helped offset the daylong languor in the Internet sector, which left

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index down 10.95 to 638.76.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

didn't need Microsoft or the Net to set its own record high. The Dow gained 23.43 to a record 11,209.84, while the small-cap

Russell 2000

shed 0.54 to 465.26.

The big European indices finished mixed, with the Paris

CAC

and London's

FTSE

closing modestly lower while Germany's

Xetra Dax

ended barely in the black.

Asian markets moved lower overnight amid continuing political tensions between China and Taiwan (see below). The

Taiwan Stock Exchange Weighted Price

index fell 506.46, or 6.4%, to 7411.58 and Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

dropped 213.65, or 1.5%, to 13,545.24. Tokyo's

Nikkei

shed 183.56, or 1%, to 18,248.30.

More markets news and commentary are available in

TSC's

Markets section.

Companies

Dow component

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

said it earned 78 cents a share in its second quarter, 2 cents below the 20-analyst

First Call

consensus and down from the previous year's $1.20. The company also said it expects 1999 earnings to be 20% to 25% lower than in 1998.

Charles Schwab

(SCH)

posted second-quarter earnings of 18 cents a share, a penny above the eight-analyst view and up from last year's 9 cents. But Schwab warned that its profit margins may shrink later this year.

Cyprus Amax Minerals

(CYM)

and

Asarco

(AR) - Get Report

yesterday agreed to combine in a $764.2 million stock transaction that will create the world's largest publicly traded copper company, to be named

Asarco Cyprus

. Cyprus Amax shareholders will get 0.765 share of Asarco Cyprus for each share of Cyprus Amax they hold, giving them about a 64% stake in the new company. Asarco shareholders will exchange their stock for Asarco Cyprus shares at a 1-for-1 ratio. Not impressed,

Warburg Dillon Read

cut Cyprus Amax to hold from buy.

Iridium

(IRID)

said it will miss a $90 million interest payment on its $1.45 billion outstanding senior notes as it exercises a 30-day grace period on that payment.

Gillette

(G) - Get Report

posted second-quarter earnings in line with lowered analysts' estimates. The razor-blade maker earned 26 cents a share, matching the 13-analyst call but falling below the year-ago 33 cents.

SBC Communications

(SBC)

has agreed to a wide-ranging marketing and distribution partnership with satellite broadcaster

DirecTV

,

The New York Times

reported, citing executives close to the deal. The companies plan to announce the deal Monday at the

Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association's

convention in Las Vegas, the

Times

reported, citing the executives.

U S West's

(USW)

board is expected to accept

Qwest's

(QWST)

$69-a-share, all-stock takeover bid at a meeting tonight,

CNBC

reported.

More news on companies and stocks is available in

TSC's

Stock News section.

Tech

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

started

Seagate Technology

(SEG)

with a cool neutral rating after the disk-drive maker yesterday reported fourth-quarter earnings of 30 cents a share, 4 cents below the 11-analyst consensus and up from the previous year's 9 cents.

After two days of deliberation, a U.S. jury in Connecticut ruled that Microsoft did not violate any federal antitrust laws when it refused tiny software firm

Bristol Technology

access to the source code of the Windows operating system. Separately, Microsoft is getting closer to creating a tracking stock for its

Microsoft Network

properties, according to

The Wall Street Journal

, which cited people familiar with the situation. The paper wrote that Softee may make an announcement as early as next week.

Paradyne Networks

(PDYN)

gained 39 3/16, or 230.5%, to 56 1/4 in its first day of trading. Lead underwriter

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

priced Paradyne at $17 a share yesterday, above its $14 to $16 pricing range.

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

last night set plans for a 2-for-1 stock split, payable August 16 to shareholders of record July 30. The split will take the form of a 100% dividend.

More tech news and commentary are available in

TSC's

Tech Stocks section.

General News

China said it may cancel a long-awaited visit to Taiwan by envoy Wang Daohan if Taiwanese President

Lee Teng-hui

doesn't rescind his recent suggestion that China and the island are separate states, the official

China Daily

reported today.

International

U.K. cable TV firms

Telewest Communications

(TWSTY)

and

NTL

(NTLI)

are each set to bid for the residential cable business of

Cable & Wireless Communications

(CWZ)

, according to

Bloomberg News

, which cited people familiar with the talks.

More international news and commentary is available in

TSC's

International section.

Elsewhere

So much for going out with grace.

Seinfeld

left television last year close to the top of its form, but somewhere in that gaping chasm between

The Godfather, Part II

and

Joanie Loves Chachi

lurks its larval progeny. During a Q&A session for the

BET

cable network, actor

Phil Morris

, better known as attorney Jackie Chiles, blurted out to reporters that a

Seinfeld

spinoff is in the works. Morris said that he would star in the spinoff, which an

NBC

spokesman said it has only discussed informally thus far.

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