Markets

Stocks were off morning lows but still lower at midday, as the 30-year Treasury bond continued to sink. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was firmly negative, with

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, down 4 3/4 to 115 3/16,

leading the slide among tech stocks.

European bourses closed sharply lower, while Asian markets closed mixed. Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

broke on through to the other side of 10,000, gaining 161.97 to 10,020.46 on strength in property stocks and

HSBC

. Japan's

Nikkei

lost 145.79 to 14,221.75.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

The winds of change are blowing at hotel company

Patriot American Hospitality

(PAH) - Get Report

. Founder Paul Nussbaum is stepping down as chairman and CEO, and the company will drop its real estate investment trust status as it is merged into property management affiliate

Wyndham International

. Debt-ridden Patriot also announced that it has received a $1 billion equity investment and lined up $2.45 billion more in loan refinancing.

Propane distribution king

UGI

(UGI) - Get Report

and

Unisource Worldwide

(UWW)

, the largest U.S. marketer of imaging paper and supply systems, said they are combining in an $815 million stock swap.

Duke Realty Investments

(DRE) - Get Report

and

Weeks

(WKS)

, two REITs operating in the Midwest and Southeast, respectively, will merge in a $1.1 billion stock deal.

AlliedSignal

(ALD)

filed a federal suit to block the merger of

BFGoodrich

(GR)

and

Coltec Industries

(COT) - Get Report

, citing antitrust laws and the violation of an exclusive aircraft landing-systems contract it had signed with Coltec.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

On-line auctioneer

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

said it is cooperating with a federal investigation of "possible illegal transactions" on its Web site.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

General News

Manufacturing isn't slowing yet. The

National Association of Purchasing Management

released its

Purchasing Managers Index

, which stands at 52.4 for February, up 2.9 from the previous month.

Former Gen.

Olusegun Obasanjo

won the presidency of Nigeria with 63% of the vote, according to election officials. Obasanjo has pledged to restore democracy to the country.

A

United Nations

treaty banning land mines became effective today. The treaty has been signed by 133 countries and ratified by 64, although the U.S., Russia and China have declined to participate.

International

U.K. newspaper firm

Mirror Group

has rejected the latest takeover bid from regional paper group

Trinity

, and continues to negotiate with

Regional Independent Media

.

Consob

, Italy's stock market regulator, cleared

Olivetti's

revised $58 billion hostile takeover offer for

Telecom Italia

(TI)

. On Saturday Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabe told the newspaper

Sole-24

that his company would fight the takeover by "increasing the value of our company."

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

Elsewhere

Remember the

Elvis

stamp debate?

Hasbro

(HAS) - Get Report

will produce a G.I. doll of 95-year-old

Bob Hope

, who entertained U.S. troops around the world for 50 years. No word yet on the age of the likeness.

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