Monday, Aug. 23, 1999

The Dow closes in record territory with other major indices hot on its heels; Filene's Basement files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; Ecuador may attempt to restructure Brady bonds.
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Markets

The market cared not a whit about inflation today. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

vaulted up nearly 200 points to close at a record high of 11,299. Financial and tech-stocks were on a tear, hauling indices higher. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

closed at 2719, under its record high of 2864, while the

S&P 500

also put on a good show, closing at 1360, as compared with an all-time high of 1418.

The big European indices closed higher, with France's

CAC

up 0.3% and Germany's

Xetra Dax

up 0.9%. London's

FTSE

, led by gains in bank shares as interest-rate fears eased, rose 2.3% to 6322, its highest close in a month.

Asian markets finished higher as Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

closed up 6.92 to 13,573, and Tokyo's

Nikkei

jumped 135.44, or 0.8%, to 18,233.

More markets news and commentary are available in

TSC's

Markets section.

Companies

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

said it won a $400 million, multiyear contract from

Allied Signal

(ALD)

. Ma Bell will provide global networking solutions across Allied's infrastructure.

Carolina Power & Light

(CPL) - Get Report

agreed to buy

Florida Progress

(FPC)

for about $5.3 billion in cash and stock. Approximately 1,200 jobs, or 7%, of the companies' combined workforce will be cut.

Centura Banks

(CBC)

will buy

Triangle Bancorp

(TGL)

in a $608.4 million stock deal, intended to expand Centura's market share in key areas of its service region. Centura said it expects to have about $60 million of acquisition-related charges.

Esco Electronics

(ESE) - Get Report

said it will sell its

Systems and Electronics

subsidiary to

Engineered Support Systems

(EASI) - Get Report

for $85 million in cash.

Eskimo Pie

(EPIE)

said a private group offered to buy it for $10.125 a share.

Filene's Basement

(BSMT) - Get Report

filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company said it plans to restructure by cutting jobs and improving merchandise.

FPIC Insurance Group

(FPIC)

said it expects to take a $1.8 million charge in the third quarter for severance payments to two executives. Robert Finch, the company's chief financial officer, and Steven Smith, president, departed over the weekend.

A team led by

Northrop Grumman's

(NOC) - Get Report

Logicon

won a $214 million contract for the

U.S. Army's

Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. BTCP trains Army staff in the operational aspects of war including the use of advanced, computer-based simulations.

Sabratek

(SBTK)

said it was unable to file its second-quarter results by the extended August 20 deadline and admitted delayed earnings could cause it to default on 6% convertible notes due in 2005. Sabratek has retained

Jay Alix and Associates

to help develop and implement a restructuring plan.

Textron

(TXT) - Get Report

agreed to buy

OmniQuip International

(OMQP)

, a construction equipment maker, for $21 a share, or about $309 million in cash.

Viacom

(VIA) - Get Report

is in talks to buy a stake in Munich-based

Kirch Group

, Germany's second-largest media company. Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal said he met with Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone who asked him to broker the deal. The billionaire prince has holdings in several media companies.

More news on companies and stocks is available in

TSC's

Stock News section.

Tech

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

Chief Executive Larry Ellison said in an interview that the company is on track to meet first-quarter estimates. In the past, Oracle has been criticized for its inability to forecast its business and sales. The 28-analyst estimate calls for earnings of 16 cents a share.

PSINet

(PSIX)

said it will buy

Transaction Network Services

(TNI)

a Web sales processor, for $720 million in cash and stock.

Stamps.com

(STMP) - Get Report

said it will provide Internet postage over

Microsoft's

(MSFT) - Get Report

Office Update Web site. Stamps.com also said it plans to license its system to companies outside the U.S.

Separately, Microsoft Chairman

Bill Gates

and his wife, Melinda, are giving $6 billion more to their foundation,

Newsweek

reported.

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

agreed to acquire software developer

Forte Software

(FRTE)

for $540 million in a stock. The deal will expand Sun's network of computing software.

More tech news and commentary are available in

TSC's

Tech Stocks section.

General News

Miami Dolphins quarterback

Dan Marino

took the stand at teammate

Tony Martin's

money-laundering trial, calling him a "good person" in his testimony. Martin is being tried alongside

Ricky Brownlee

, whose case centers on alleged drug use. Martin is accused of leasing cars in his own name on behalf of Brownlee, who paid him back in cash.

The

Securities and Exchange Commission

approved rule changes that tighten oversight of personal trading by portfolio managers at mutual fund companies. The changes, which come in response to several conflict-of-interest violations in recent years, require more complete reporting of employee trades and pre-clearance of stock purchases involving IPO's and private placement deals.

Taiwan barred

China Airlines

from acquiring new international routes following a crash landing that killed two and injured more than 200. Taiwanese officials lashed out at China Airlines and said it should make changes to put safety at the top of its list. The yearlong ban comes just a week after the airline placed a $5.6 billion aircraft order, its largest ever, as part of an attempt to replace older jetliners with new models.

South Korea's Defense Minister tried to enlist China's help as it tried to dissuade North Korea from testing a long-range missile. Talks between South Korea's Cho Sung-tae and China's Chi Haotian were the first between defense ministers of the two countries, who were adversaries in the Korean War.

A spokesman for Chechen-led guerillas said the group had quit a part of Dagestan where they had been holding several villages in a two-week standoff with Russian troops. A

Russian Defense Ministry

spokesman called the report "blatant, unprincipled, unpardonable lies."

International

Deutsche Bank

and

Dresdner Bank

said they are in talks to combine their retail banking operations in order to cut costs.

Ecuador said it may attempt to restructure nearly $6 billion in Brady bonds, which would make it the first country to default on the debt. The country faces a $93.5 million bond payment due at the end of the month.

Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux

said it will buy the rest of

United Water Resources

(UWR)

for $1 billion. Suez, which already owns 33% of UWR capital, said it would pay $35 for each share.

More international news and commentary are available in

TSC's

International section.

Elsewhere

Joseph Beahm of Seaside Heights, N.J., wanted a "funny" tattoo. So he opted for an image of a knife stabbing into his right shoulder blade, circled by the phrase "Why Not? Everyone Else Does," allegedly a metaphorical reference to being stabbed in the back. Unfortunately for Beahm, James Kastel, the 28-year-old tattoo artist who carved out the image, was no spelling bee champ. When a friend pointed out to Beahm that he currently has "Everyone Elese Does," inscribed on his back, Beahm felt a little betrayed. Now he wants the parlor to fork over the cost of laser surgery removal.

A recent

U.S. Department of State

Travel Warning on Russia doesn't leave prospective travelers with too many options. According to the report: "Crime against foreigners is a problem, especially in major cities. The most vulnerable areas include underground walkways and the subway, overnight trains, train stations, airports, markets, tourist attractions, restaurants, hotel rooms, and residences, even when locked or occupied."