Monday, July 12, 1999

Stock indices end near unchanged, but bonds surge. Met Life to buy auto, home insurance lines of The St. Paul Companies.
Publish date:


A relative trickle of major earnings news wasn't enough to move the major proxies much today. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

gained a scant 7.28 to 11,200.98; the

Nasdaq Composite Index

lost a wee 2.40 to 2790.67; the

S&P 500

shed 4.15 to 1399.13; the small-cap

Russell 2000

added 1.32 to 459.30; and Internet Sector

index backed off 6.00 to 658.84.

The bond market wasn't short on moves today, though. Up 1 7/32, went the 30-year Treasury bond, to 90 27/32, its yield rising to 5.908%.

The big European indices finished mixed, with the Paris


and Germany's

Xetra Dax

modestly higher and London's


marginally lower.

In Brazil, the


was plunging more than 2.57% late in the afternoon session amid rumors that Argentina was in danger of defaulting on its foreign debt payments. Argentine President

Carlos Menem

responded to the rumors by saying that Argentina "will honor its foreign and domestic debt, no matter whether some candidate asks for the opposite for his own spurious political interests."

Asian markets were split overnight, as Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

dropped 160.73, or 1.1%, to 14,061.84, while Tokyo's


climbed 336.45, or 1.9%, to 18,274.18.

More markets news and commentary are available in


Markets section.


Medical devices firm

Baxter International

(BAX) - Get Report

set plans to spin off its cardiovascular business to shareholders during the first half of next year. The new company will have sales of nearly $1 billion.

Publishing concern


(GCI) - Get Report

posted second-quarter earnings of 87 cents a share, a penny above the 13-analyst

First Call

consensus and up from last year's 78 cents.

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

set plans to buy electronic market maker

Hull Group

for $531 million in stock, options and cash.

Mutual insurer

Metropolitan Life Insurance

is buying the auto and home insurance lines of

The St. Paul Companies


for $600 million.

The U.S. unit of U.K. insurer

Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance

is buying specialty property and casualty insurer

Orion Capital

(OC) - Get Report

for about $1.4 billion in cash, or about $50 a share.

Good news for


(PFE) - Get Report

ahead of this evening's second-quarter earnings report: The

Food and Drug Administration



, the company's topical heartworm drug for dogs and cats.

Red Roof Inns


is being bought by France's


, the owner of

Motel 6

, for about $613 million in cash, or $22.75 a share. Accor will also assume about $502 million in Red Roof debt.

World Color Press


is being acquired by Canada's

Quebecor Printing

for about $1.4 billion in stock and cash.

More news on companies and stocks is available in


Stock News section.



(DIS) - Get Report

set plans to buy the 57% of



it doesn't already own and merge the search engine with its

Buena Vista Internet Group

to form an Internet firm called

. Disney said it will offer 1.15 shares of tracking stock, the value of which is yet unclear, for each Infoseek share.


(IBM) - Get Report

is buying open systems server firm

Sequent Computer Systems


for about $810 million in cash.


(MSFT) - Get Report

will buy about $400 million in convertible preferred securities of Canada's

Rogers Communications


to help the cable TV and wireless telecom firm implement interactive television services in Canada.

Web auctioneer



signed a deal with Internet service provider

Prodigy Communications


to link its consumer auctions to Prodigy's home page. The deal's financial terms weren't disclosed.

More tech news and commentary are available in


Tech Stocks section.

General News

North Korea appears set to fire a test missile sometime during the next two months, Sen.

Robert Torricelli

(D., N.J.) said today in Beijing after a two-day visit to North Korea. South Korea's foreign minister, Hong Soon-young, said that a new test-fire by North Korea would result in the U.S., Japan and South Korea cutting off nearly all economic aid to the country, which has been experiencing mass famine for years.

Yugoslavia today denied


reports that it is amassing Serbian troops in Montenegro.


Dutch oil-services firm


(SLB) - Get Report

set plans to spin off its

Sedco Forex Offshore

drilling business and merge it with Houston-based

Transocean Offshore

(RIG) - Get Report

. Schlumberger shareholders will own 52% of the resulting company, to be called

Transocean Sedco Forex



looked at what the deal could mean to the industry in

a story this afternoon.

French bank

Societe Generale

rejected a sweetened $17.8 billion takeover offer from

Banque Nationale de Paris

and urged investors to support its plans to merge with


, which BNP is also trying to acquire. SocGen has until July 30 to raise its bid for Paribas. BNP's offer for Paribas is currently worth about 118 euros a share, about 5 euros a share higher than SocGen's.

More international news and commentary are available in


International section.




was arrested in the middle of a Saturday night concert in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, for public use of obscene language. The case threatens to reduce rap performances in the former British colony to recitations of loosely connected series of articles and prepositions over @#$%?@*&!# rhythm-track backdrops.

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