Markets

Oscar party hangover? Stocks looked sluggish from start to finish, as most major indices closed lower on thin volume. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

lost 13.04 to 9890.51; the

S&P 500

shed 2.28 to 1297.01; and the

Nasdaq Composite Index

dumped 25.35 to 2395.92; the small-cap

Russell 2000

fell 3.38 to 393.20; but

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index picked up 4.92 to close at 633.51.

Major European indices closed lower. In Asia, Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

rose 24.32 to 11,107.24, while Japan's

Nikkei

was closed for the spring holiday.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

AMR

(AMR)

unit

American Airlines

yesterday resumed negotiations with its pilots union, hoping that differences between the two groups can be solved through nonbinding mediation, according to

The Wall Street Journal

.

California utility

Edison International

(EIX) - Get Report

is paying the government of New Zealand about $640 million for a 40% stake in gas and electric firm

Contact Energy

. The deal gives Edison International one-third of New Zealand's electricity production and most of its gas retailing business.

Wastewater treatment firm

U.S. Filter

(USF)

is being acquired by French conglomerate

Vivendi

for about $6.2 billion in cash, marking the largest-ever French corporate inroad into the U.S.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

Cable provider

Comcast

(CMCSA) - Get Report

agreed to buy rival

MediaOne Group

(UMG)

in a stock deal worth about $60 billion. MediaOne shareholders will own about 64% of the combined entity.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

today confirmed that it has contacted the

Justice Department

about a possible settlement of its the antitrust trial.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

General News

Secretary of State

Madeleine Albright

today said that special envoy

Richard Holbrooke

this week will make clear to Yugoslav President

Slobodan Milosevic

that he must either accept the Kosovo peace settlement or prepare for

NATO

bombings of Serb targets.

Government leaders from Japan and Australia today accused the U.S.

Congress

of trying to subvert

World Trade Organization

rules by passing a bill limiting foreign steel imports.

Former New York City mayor

Ed Koch

is listed in stable condition at

New York Hospital

. At a news conference today, Koch told reporters that he is "doing OK." Koch, 74, was taken to the emergency room this morning after suffering cardiac problems while working out.

A judge granted

Dr. Jack Kevorkian's

request to represent himself at his murder trial, which begins today. Kevorkian, who says he has facilitated more than 130 suicides since 1990, is charged with killing Thomas Youk, a 52-year-old man suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. Prosecutors won't have search too hard for evidence of Youk's death -- it was videotaped by Kevorkian and later broadcast on

60 Minutes

.

At a news conference at Cairo's El Basatine Clinic, First Lady

Hillary Rodham Clinton

today said that she's giving serious consideration to the possibility of a

Senate

run in 2000.

International

A Dutch court today ordered

Gucci

(GUC)

to negotiate with French luxury goods maker

LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton

(LVMHY)

over it's $7.86 billion hostile takeover offer for the fashion group. The court also gave the green light to French retailer

Pinault-Printemps-Redoute's

plans to take a 40% stake in Gucci.

Canadian telecom

Bruncor

has agreed to merge with three other phone companies --

Island Telecom

,

NewTel Enterprises

and

Maritime Telegraph & Telephone

-- to form a company able to service all of eastern Canada and compete with Canada's largest telecommunications firm,

Bell Canada

. The new company will be called

AtlanticCo

.

The European banking system will have some new entrants into its top ranks if two Italian megamergers go through. Over the weekend

San Paolo-IMI

, Italy's largest bank, said it will merge with

Banca di Roma

just hours after

UniCredito Italiano

announced its plans to acquire

Banca Commerciale Italiana

.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

Elsewhere

The envelope, please:

Shakespeare in Love

garnered top honors at last night's

Academy Awards

presentation, taking home a total of seven Oscars, including the award for best picture.

The semifinal brackets are set for this year's

NCAA

basketball tourney: Beast of the East

Duke

will play Midwest champ

Michigan State

, while South bracket representative

Ohio State

will meet the West's

University of Connecticut

.

Have a dumb question relating to finance? Great. Have a

really

dumb question? Even better. Send it to

MonEmailbag@thestreet.com, and I'll do my best to answer every Saturday. Include your full name, and please, no questions seeking personal financial advice or regarding personal brokerage disputes. And this reminder: Because of the volume of mail, personal replies can't be guaranteed.