Stocks were mixed at midday, with the

Nasdaq Composite Index

sharply higher on a tech surge led by


(INTC) - Get Report

, lately up 3 5/8 to 118 3/16 on news of its deal with the

Federal Trade Commission

(see below). Blue-chips, meanwhile, were posting modest losses.

Major European bourses closed mixed, while Asian markets came back to earth after Friday's rallies with red-hot morning sessions. After breaking the 15,000-point barrier early, Japan's


exhaled to close down 114.95 to 14,779.05. Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

finished up a sober 22.87 to 10,263.99, having peaked at 10,500.86 in the morning hours.

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Specialty chemical maker


(ALB) - Get Report

agreed to buy U.K. phosphate king

Albright & Wilson

for about $655 million in cash.

Allied Waste Industries


announced that it will buy fellow waste management firm

Browning-Ferris Industries


for about $9.1 billion in cash and debt assumption.'s

Gregg Wirth reported last week on the

strange call-buying in Browning-Ferris.

Consumer and business finance firm

CIT Group

(CIT) - Get Report

agreed to buy Canadian lender

Newcourt Credit


for about $4.2 billion in stock.

Goldman Sachs'

221 partners today are expected to approve plans to sell about 10% of the company in an early summer IPO.

John Peterman

has been bounced by last-minute buyer

Paul Harris Stores


from his position as chairman of the eponymous catalog retailer he founded more than 10 years ago. Peterman expressed shock, saying Paul Harris CFO Thomas McCain told him Saturday that it would take two to three months before the company decided on his fate.

Medical and security screening instrument maker



said it has agreed to buy



Analytical Instruments

unit for $425 million.

For more news on companies and stocks, click


General News


Hu Yinfeng


Lu Huaming

were executed today by the Chinese government for tax fraud.

Defense Secretary

William Cohen

said the


is ready to offer friendly Persian Gulf states real-time intelligence on Iraqi and Iranian missile launches.

The Northern Ireland peace accord moved forward today with the signing of four key treaties by the British and Irish governments. The treaties formalize institutions binding lawmakers of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.


The Benelux banks keep spreading out. U.S. credit insurance firm

American Bankers Insurance Group

is being acquired by Belgian-Dutch financial services company


for about $2.6 billion.

For more international news and commentary, click



BMC Software


agreed to acquire Israeli software company

New Dimension Software


for about $650 million, rounding out its purchase of mainframe-software firm

Boole & Babbage


, the exclusive distributor of New Dimension's products in Europe.

Intel can breathe easy: The FTC reached a settlement with the chip behemoth, just a day before it was set to launch an antitrust suit against the company.

Chip maker

VLSI Technology


said it has amended its "poison pill" defense against

Philips Electronics'

(PHG) - Get Report

$777 million hostile takeover bid. The poison pill is now set to trigger if Philips' stake in the company hits 10%, as opposed to the previous level of 20%.

For more tech news and commentary, click



Two giants gone: One day after the passing of director

Stanley Kubrick

, the Yankee Clipper,

Joe DiMaggio

, died today at the age of 84 after a long struggle with lung cancer.

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