Thursday, January 28, 1999

Wall Street's looking at a strong morning on a slew of mergers; Venezuela goes after Big Tobacco.
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Markets

The

S&P 500

futures finished the

Globex

session up 8.10, about 7 points over fair value, indicating a strong open.

European bourses generally were higher at midday.

Asian markets took a drubbing, as Japan's

Nikkei 225

dropped to 107.74 to close at 14,342.32, while Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

shed 358.70 to 9,360.96.

As sure as John Henry was a steel-drivin' man,

Chicago Board of Trade

is sticking with the open outcry trading system for now. Members voted Wednesday to nix the Board's alliance with

Eurex

, the fast-growing European electronic exchange system

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

Ending weeks of speculation,

Ford Motor

(F) - Get Report

said it has agreed to buy the passenger car operations of Swedish auto maker

Volvo

(VOLVY)

for $6.45 billion. Volvo will retain its truck business under the deal.

U.S. auto and aerospace components manufacturer

TRW

(TRW)

beat out

Federal-Mogul

(FMO) - Get Report

in the bidding war for

LucasVarity

, having agreed to acquire the U.K.-based auto parts maker for about $6.6 billion in cash.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

America Online

last night reported fourth-quarter earnings of 17 cents a share -- three cents over Wall Street estimates -- and announced a 2-for-1 stock split.

Web portal

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

said it has agreed to acquire electronic communities site GeoCities

(GCTY)

.

TSC

broke the story last night.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

International

Swedish cell phone maker

Ericsson

said its fourth-quarter net income dropped 3% from last year, citing weak demand for fixed-line switches and falling prices for mobile phones. The company's lower profits still beat expectations, though. Last night

TSC

previewed the earnings report.

The government of Venezuela last night filed a lawsuit seeking billions of dollars in damages from

Brown & Williamson

,

British American Tobacco

(BTI) - Get Report

,

Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Report

,

RJR Nabisco

(RN)

unit

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco

,

Loews

(LTR)

unit

Lorillard Tobacco

and

Brooke Group

(BGL)

unit

Liggett Group

.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

General News

U.S. Embassy officials said that a Turkish air base used by U.S. and U.K. warplanes enforcing the no-fly zone has been put on alert against missile attack by Iraq.

Arthur Levitt

, chairman of the

Securities and Exchange Commission

, yesterday issued a statement warning investors of the "highly risky" nature of day trading, and electronic trading in particular. Last night

TSC

contextualized Levitt's comments.

Elsewhere

Censure, anyone? Former

Northwestern

football player

Christopher Gamble

plead guilty to lying to a federal grand jury investigating illegal sports betting, and could face up to a year in prison on the charge. However, prosecutors said they would consider seeking a lighter sentence if Gamble is helpful in their investigation.