Markets

Investors put stocks on cruise control, sitting on the sidelines while Day III of

Operation Allied Force

unwound (see below).

Most major proxies were flat. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

lost 14.15 to 9822.24; the

S&P 500

shed 7.18 to 1282.81; the

Nasdaq Composite Index

dumped 15.47 to 2419.33; the small-cap

Russell 2000

gained 0.93 to 393.92; and

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index picked up 1.68 to close at 629.580.

European bourses finished mixed and volatile Asian markets had a rare flat day, as Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

shed 22.82 to 10,803.31 and Japan's

Nikkei

gained 30.95 to 16,016.99.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

The

Surface Transportation Board

approved

Canadian National Railways'

(CNI) - Get Report

acquisition of

Illinois Central

(IC)

, paving the way for a rail system linking Canada with the Gulf of Mexico.

General Cigar

(MPP)

is selling its mass-market cigar business -- including the best-selling

Garcia y Vega

brand -- to

Swedish Match

(SWMAY)

for about $200 million in cash. General Cigar will instead focus on its premium cigar brands.

Time to stock up.

PepsiCo

(PEP) - Get Report

said yesterday that it will end sales of soft drink Josta, the caffeinated Brazilian guarana berry beverage introduced by the company two years ago with hopes of bringing in $500 million annually.

UAL

(UAL) - Get Report

unit

United Airlines

said President and COO

James E. Goodwin

-- a labor-friendly, 32-year company insider -- will replace the retiring

Gerald Greenwald

as CEO, ending a five-month search for a successor.

Shares of

Warner-Lambert

(WLA)

are suffering while an

FDA

advisory panel meets to decide whether diabetes drug

Rezulin

, which can cause serious liver damage in some users, should face tighter restrictions. After sinking as low as 65 15/16, the stock dropped 1 21/32 to close at 67 11/16.

TheStreet.com

has

written

extensively on Rezulin.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

No doubt responding to the successful IPO of rival

Autoweb.com

(AWEB)

,

Autobytel.com

has raised the high end of its IPO price range again, this time to $23 a share. The online car dealer Tuesday had raised its offering's price range from between $16 and $18 a share to between $20 and $22 a share.

An international arbitrator has ordered Internet service provider

PSINet

(PSIX)

to pay $49 million in damages to

Chatterjee Management

for a stillborn 1996 joint venture agreement to develop the Internet in Europe. Chatterjee is a U.K. investment firm owned by financier

George Soros

.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

General News

NATO

forces continue to pound Serbian targets. NATO has denied local Yugoslav television reports that Serbian forces shot down a NATO plane. Meanwhile, NATO reports that it has downed two Yugoslav MIG-29s over Bosnia.

International

Nomura Securities

, Japan's largest securities house, today disclosed one-time losses of about $4.6 billion, including $2.9 billion representing money the company is shifting to affiliated mortgage-backed securities dealer

Nomura Finance

.

Swiss druggernaut

Roche Holding

and Icelandic biotech sidekick

Decode Genetics

today announced that they have located the gene believed to cause osteoarthritis.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

Elsewhere

One day after

Hideo Nomo's

departure to the minors, the

New York Mets

signed former Met-killer and Cy Young winner

Orel Hershiser

to a one-year, $2 million contract. Hershiser is now 40 years old.

Thirty-six-year

Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripken Sr.

died yesterday of lung cancer at the age of 63.

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