Thursday, January 28, 1999

Tech stocks lead a broad advance; the Chicago Board of Trade sticks with the open-outcry trading system; GTE posts earnings.
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Markets

The technology sector paced a broad advance among U.S. stocks at midday.

European bourses generally were higher at midafternoon.

Asian markets took a drubbing, as Japan's

Nikkei 225

dropped 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, the

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

(F) - Get Report

said it has agreed to buy the 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

(LVA)

, 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

(AOL)

last night reported fourth-quarter earnings of 17 cents a share -- 3 cents over Wall Street estimates -- and announced a 2-for-1 stock split.

The king of chips will double-dip.

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

today announced a 2-for-1 stock split and raised its quarterly dividend by a penny per share. Columnist

James Cramer

spat up his coffee at the news.

GTE

(GTE) - Get Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 88 cents a share, matching Street expectations.

Web portal

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

said it has agreed to acquire electronic communities site GeoCities

(GCTY)

.

TSC

broke news of the talks last night.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

International

Swedish cell-phone maker

Ericsson

(ERICY)

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

unit

Liggett Group

.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

General News

Steel imports from Japan were 47% lower than the previous month, according to U.S.

Commerce Department

figures.

Federal Reserve

chairman

Alan Greenspan

played the heavy today before the

Senate Budget Committee

, saying that, in the long term, Social Security could only be saved by raising taxes or cutting benefits.

The U.S.

Labor Department

released

Employment Cost Index

figures showing wages and benefits rising 3.4% in 1998, the fastest clip in five years.

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

pleaded 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.