Markets

Some inflation friendly economic data (see below) and another wave of

positive earnings reports helped the two of the big three proxies close at record highs. The

S&P 500

added 11.45 to a record 1409.62, and the

Nasdaq Composite Index

advanced 21.18 to a record 2839.31. Small-caps surged, driving the

Russell 2000

up 4.34 to 465.80, while the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

scooted up 38.31 to 11,186.41. Though the rally wasn't narrow -- market breadth was strong on both major exchanges -- the Net sector didn't participate, and

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index shaved off 7.47 to 649.73.

The 30-year Treasury bond lost 1/32 to 90 23/32, its yield rising to 5.919%

The big European indices all finished higher, led by the Paris

CAC

and the London

FTSE

, each picking up about 1.5%, while Germany's

Xetra Dax

closed marginally above break-even.

Asian markets advanced overnight, as Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

rose 183.42, or 1.4%, to 13,758.89, and Tokyo's

Nikkei

gained 74.00 to 18,431.86.

More markets news and commentary are available in

TSC's

Markets section.

Companies

New England natural-gas distributor

Eastern Enterprises

(EFU) - Get Report

is moving its operations into Vermont and New Hampshire by buying

EnergyNorth

(EI)

for $156 million in cash and stock, or $47 a share.

Accountants with weak stomachs might want to brace themselves for

McKesson HBOC's

(MCK) - Get Report

latest earnings restatement in the aftermath of improper recording of software sales at information technology business

HBO

, which McKesson bought in January.

TSC

detailed the horror in last night's

Evening Update.

Robert Daly

and

Terry Semel

said they will step down as co-chairmen and co-CEOs of

Time Warner

(TWX)

units

Warner Bros.

and

Warner Music

after their contracts expire at the end of the year.

Jack Messman

is retiring as chairman and CEO of

Union Pacific Resources

(UPR)

.

Not one to miss out on the hot corporate debt market,

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

filed a shelf registration with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

for $10 billion in debt to be sold at some point in the future.

More news on companies and stocks is available in

TSC's

Stock News section.

Tech

Efficient Networks

(EFNT)

was jumping 36 1/8, or 240.8%, to 51 1/8 in its trading debut after being priced last night by lead underwriter

Credit Suisse First Boston

at $15, at the top of its pricing range.

National Semiconductor

(NSM)

confirmed a report in

The Wall Street Journal

that it has developed a microchip that combines 43 different semiconductor functions on a single wafer. The company said the chip, called the Geode SC1400, will be used in such appliances as set-top boxes and handheld computing devices.

Japan's

Softbank

said it will sell its 80% stake in memory-chip-module manufacturer

Kingston Technology

as part of a plan to focus its investment portfolio on pure Internet plays. The company also endorsed a move by technology magazine publisher

Ziff-Davis

(ZD)

, of which Softbank owns 69%, to explore strategic alternatives to jumpstart its stock, including selling some or all of its operations.

More tech news and commentary are available in

TSC's

Tech Stocks section.

General News

The

Labor Department

released the

consumer price index

, which came in unchanged for the month of June, below an expected 0.1% increase and matching last month's flat rate. The core rate, which excludes food and energy costs, increased 0.1%, 0.1 percentage point below expectations and on pace with May's 0.1% increase. The agency also released figures showing

initial jobless claims

at 310,000 for the week ended July 10, marginally higher than expected and up from the prior week's 299,000.

Colombia has accepted a $3 billion loan offer from the

International Monetary Fund

, Finance Minister

Juan Camilo Restrepo

said today.

International

BP Amoco

(BPA)

said it will sell $10 billion in assets over the next three years as part of a plan to cut its refining capacity in the face of slim profit margins. The plan starts with BP Amoco's Alliance refinery in Louisiana, which the company said it would put up for sale. Separately, BP Amoco set plans to sell its

Plaskon Electronic Materials

unit to the U.K.'s

Cookson

for about $121 million.

More international news and commentary are available in

TSC's

International section.

Elsewhere

The world has long known that China has the neutron bomb -- it exploded its first one 11 years ago. But yesterday the country said it developed that technology on its own, without having to resort to espionage, as the recently released

Cox Report

alleges. Still, Americans can rest easy knowing the U.S. remains the only nation with full "Neutron Dance" capabilities, first developed by the

Pointer Sisters

more than 15 years ago.

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