Markets

Stocks turned sour at midmorning and didn't stop sinking, as most major indices closed deep in negative territory. A blue-chip swoon doomed financial reporters on the Dow 10K beat, while transport and technology stocks took the hardest hits. The Internet sector was a lone bright spot.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

lost 94.07 to 9903.55; the

S&P 500

fell 17.26 to 1299.29; the

Nasdaq Composite Index

plummeted 41.64 to 2421.32; the small-cap

Russell 2000

dropped 2.97 to 396.58; but

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index gained 11.14 to close at 628.60.

International markets picked up where Wall Street left off yesterday. Major European indices all closed solidly higher. And Asian markets spent the night rebounding like

Jayson Williams, with Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

skyrocketing 423.60 to 11,082.92 and Japan's

Nikkei

gaining 660.86 to 16,378.78.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

East Coast banking power

First Union

(FTU)

said it plans to eliminate about 5,850 jobs as it restructures after last year's merger with

CoreStates Financial

. Last month, the bank said it might cut as many as 7,150 jobs.

A federal jury rejected a $2 billion lawsuit filed by 114 Ohio union health funds charging unfair targeting of blue-collar workers by tobacco companies

Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Report

,

RJR Nabisco

(RN)

unit

R.J. Reynolds Holdings

,

B.A.T Industries

(BTI) - Get Report

unit

British American Tobacco

and

Loews

(LTR)

unit

Lorillard

.

Viacom

(VIA) - Get Report

today announced plans to pay about $162 million for the 20% of

Spelling Entertainment

(SP) - Get Report

that it doesn't already own.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

Shares of online women's community network

iVillage

(IVIL:Nasdaq) begin trading today on the

Nasdaq National Market

. The stock was priced at $24 a share.

Girls' software firm

Purple Moon

is being acquired by rival

Mattel

(MAT) - Get Report

, whose breezy Barbie character formerly squared off with Purple Moon's brainier Rockett Movado.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

General News

At least 62 people are dead from a bomb that exploded in an outdoor market in the southern Russian town of

Vladikavkaz

today.

Louis Farrakhan

is taking a four-month sabbatical from his duties as leader of the

Nation of Islam

to recover from prostate cancer treatment, according to his personal physician. Earlier this week, the Nation's newspaper,

The Final Call

, reported that Farrakhan had been gravely ill since early this year.

International mediators today called off the Kosovo peace talks, charging the Serbian leadership with trying to sabotage the accord that ethnic Albanians signed yesterday.

International

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton's

(LVMHY)

made a full takeover offer for

Gucci Group

(GUC)

after French specialty retailer

Pinault-Printemps-Redoute

agreed to buy a 40% interest in Gucci for about $3 billion. Under this deal, Pinault-Printemps would buy 39 million newly issued shares, diluting LVMH's slowly advancing stake to 22%.

U.K. venture capital firm

3i Group

made a hostile takeover offer of about $2.04 billion for rival

Electra Investment Trust

.

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

and

British Telecommunications

(BTY)

are on the verge of buying a combined 30% stake in

Japan Telecom

, according to the Japanese newspaper

Nihon Keizai Shimbun

. But a spokesman for Japan Telecom said that "nothing has been decided" yet.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

Elsewhere

Balloonists Brian Jones of Britain and Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland are more than halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, riding a jet stream toward the Northern African finish line in their quest to circumnavigate the Earth.

Buzzkill. Celebrations of the 250th anniversary of

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's

birth were deflated yesterday when the Frankfurt newspaper

Allgemeine Zeitung

reported that East German scientists exhumed the

Sturm und Drang

poet's body on the sly nearly 30 years ago in an attempt to preserve it. Goethe's place in German national history is similar to

Shakespeare's

and

George Washington's

in their respective countries.

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