Movement on the major indices remained slight at midday. Blue-chips and Internet stocks were mired in negative territory, while other tech stocks and small-caps traded modestly higher.

Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

ended the year down 72.86 to close at 10,048.58.

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Justice Department




(T) - Get Report

T:NYSE) the green light for its acquisition of cable company




TCOMA:Nasdaq). The

Federal Communications Commission

has yet to sign off on the deal.



(BA) - Get Report

BA:NYSE) announced that it has delivered a company-record 550 commercial jets this year to meet its 1998 goal.


Federal Trade Commission

conditionally approved

British Petroleum's


(BP) - Get Report

BP:NYSE ADR) purchase of



(AN) - Get Report

AN:NYSE). But FTC boss

Robert Pitofsky

said that it would be dangerous for the oil industry to consolidate any further.



(CBS) - Get Report

CBS:NYSE) is selling its 50% stake in the

CBS Eye on People

cable network to partner

Discovery Communications



Justice Department

joined a second whistleblower suit charging

Columbia/HCA Healthcare



COL:NYSE) with attempting to defraud government healthcare programs.

Real estate investment trust

Hospitality Properties Trust



HPT:NYSE) said that it will buy 17 hotels from

Marriott International


(MAR) - Get Report

MAR:NYSE) for $201.7 million.

Waste Management



WMI:NYSE) settled a suit filed by the

Department of Justice

trying to block its acquisition of

Eastern Environmental Services



EESI:Nasdaq), agreeing to divest some key assets and contracts.

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The Chinese government said today that it will ease restrictions on the exporting of silk garments to the U.S.

South Korea will sell 51% of its ailing

Korea First Bank

to an American consortium led by Texas-based

Newbridge Capital


Ministers from 11

European Union

nations met today in Brussels to decide the rates at which their currencies will be converted into euros.

Payment agent



(BAC) - Get Report

BAC:NYSE) officially declared Russia to be in default for missing a $363 million payment on $26 billion in loans owed to a group of about 600 Western commercial creditors. Meanwhile, government figures measured Russian inflation at 84% for 1998.

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New evidence in the antitrust trial against



(MSFT) - Get Report

MSFT:Nasdaq) reveals that



(INTU) - Get Report

INTU:Nasdaq) founder Scott Cook told his board of directors in 1994 to fear Microsoft's response if its takeover bid were rejected.

Quickturn Design Systems



QKTN:Nasdaq) rejected software maker

Mentor Graphics'



MENT:Nasdaq) new takeover offer.

Telecom service provider




RCNC:Nasdaq) will combine its four Internet service provider businesses into a single entity branded


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General News


Labor Department

said today that unemployment benefit claims jumped by 79,000 last week to 368,000, the highest level since July.

Despite recent conflagrations, the


said that it is reducing the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. ambassador to Israel has closed the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv after receiving "credible" terrorist threats.


United Nations

is evacuating staff from Huambo, Angola, in the wake of a rebel attack that wounded 20 civilians.

A county grand jury said yesterday that it found no evidence of conspiracy in the Oklahoma City bombing.


Jean-Claude Forest

, creator of the comic strip character Barbarella, has died at the age of 68.

The union for

National Basketball Association

players is preparing its final offer to the team owners' negotiating committee.