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Monday, May 10, 1999

Markets split at the close; Department 56 set to buy back three million shares; AOL's finance page hooks up with five U.S. banks.


Break-even, that cruel nag, had the blue-chips on a pretty short leash today. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

twice tried to stray from her side -- first up, then down. But twice it was corrected, paring its gains and losses, and finally closing in shallow negative territory. The Dow lost 24.34 to 11,007.25, and the

S&P 500

shed 4.7 to 1340.30.

The action -- such as it was, with volume moderate at best -- was in technology, which was free to roam somewhat wider pastures than the range-bound industrials. Along with the small-caps, tech and Net issues rallied along with the bond market; the

Nasdaq Composite Index

gained 22.77 to 2526.39; the Internet Sector

index added 21.18 to 635.33; and the

Russell 2000

shot up 5.74 to 441.85.

Major European indices finished mixed: Germany's


lost 1.7% and London's


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finished fractionally lower, while the Paris


surged late to gain 1.3% for the day. In Asia, news of a bid deal by


(see below) lifted Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

165.77, or 1.3%, to 13,163.20. Tokyo's


added 30.49 to 16,977.01.

For more markets action and news, click





is rumored to be in talks to acquire rival


(TX) - Get Ternium S.A. American Depositary Shares (each representing ten shares USD1.00 par value) Report

, though any agreement isn't likely be reached for months, according to a wide array of reports. Neither company has commented on the rumors.

Collectibles seller

Department 56's

(DFS) - Get Discover Financial Services Report

board authorized a buyback of three million shares.

HSBC is buying

Edmond Safra's

Republic New York


and European affiliate

Safra Republic Holdings

for about $10.3 billion in cash.

Carpet tile producer



is not a takeover target, Chairman and CEO Ray Anderson said today. Anderson said that President Charles Eitel's recent public musings over the company's breakup value -- what the company what be worth if all its operations were valued independently -- were taken out of context.

International telecom provider



set plans to spend $5 billion over the next five years to beef up its network for voice, video and data transmission.

An Alabama jury ordered


(WHR) - Get Whirlpool Corporation Report

to pay a total of about $581 million to three people who claim they were misled about the financing terms of a

Whirlpool Financial National Bank

credit card they used to buy a $2,000 satellite dish. The award, which Whirlpool will appeal, includes $975,000 in compensatory damages and $580 million in punitive damages. Whirlpool sold the financing subsidiary to


(TA) - Get TravelCenters of America Inc. Report

last year.

Shares of biotech



got hammered after the company announced that it and partner



will forego a June


advisory panel review of long-delayed erectile dysfunction drug


, a move that will result in a nonapprovable letter from the panel.


has chronicled

the drug's dubious data in

several stories. Zonagen closed down 9 5/16, or 46.71%, to 10 11/16.

For more news on companies and stocks, click



America Online


signed a deal that will have its personal finance channel carrying the online banking services of five large U.S. banks:

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Bank of America Corporation Report



(C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report




Union Bank of California



Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report

. AOL did not release details of the agreement.

General Electric

(GE) - Get General Electric Company Report



is merging several of its Internet properties with community site


and Internet service

, a joint venture of NBC and


(CNET) - Get ZW Data Action Technologies Inc. Report

. The resulting entity will be called

NBC Internet


Another 5% telecom stake for


(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

. Days after its 5% investment in


(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

, Softee set plans to spend $600 million for 5% of wireless phone company



. The two companies will work to provide Nextel customers Internet access via their phones.

USA Networks

(USAI) - Get Pacer American Energy Independence ETF Report

is expected to trash its bid to buy Web portal



in the face of extreme opposition from shareholders, according to

The Wall Street Journal

, which cited people familiar with the deal.

For more tech news and commentary, click


General News

The fallout from


mistaken bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia grew as China ended talks with the U.S. on human rights and arms control. In Beijing, demonstrators pelted the U.S. Embassy with stones for a third straight day.

Belgrade's quest to end NATO's air strikes takes to the

World Court

today in the first of two days of hearings; Belgrade has charged the alliance with violating international law and conducting a genocidal campaign. Meanwhile, Yugoslavia said it would partially withdraw its military and police forces from Kosovar, citing the completion of its fight against ethnic Albanian rebels in the province. Secretary of State

Madeleine Albright

was not impressed, calling the move a "half-measure."


There's one less suitor for

Korea Life Insurance

today. U.S. mutual company

Metropolitan Life Insurance

has dropped out of the bidding, leaving France's



and Korea's

LG Group

as the front-runners for Korea Life, the third-largest Korean life insurer, with about 18% of the national market.

Consolidation in the Norwegian oil industry may be in the offing:

Norsk Hydro


has made an unsolicited takeover offer for smaller competitor

Saga Petroleum


for about $2.2 billion in stock. The Norwegian government owns 51% of Norsk Hydro.

For more international news and commentary, click




Dana Plato

, better known to many as Kimberly Drummond on the NBC sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes," died Saturday after mixing the painkiller Loritab with Valium. She was 34.

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