Markets

Stocks jumped across the board at the opening bell, with the

Nasdaq Composite Index

leading all major proxies.

Major European bourses were pumping higher at midday, while Asian markets had another huge day. Japan's

Nikkei

jumped a modest 22.14 to 15,502.14, and Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

dumped 86.20 to 10,662.81.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

will soon be beefing up its drug business. The company's CEO,

Charles Holliday

, said the company wants to bring its pharmaceutical segment to "critical mass through strategic alliances," and will create a tracking stock following that segment.

A

Federal Trade Commission

official yesterday told the

House Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee

that

Exxon

(XON) - Get Report

and

Mobil

(MOB)

will face close scrutiny from the commission regarding the possibility that their merger will adversely affect competition in California, the Gulf Coast region and the Northeast.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

General News

The

Census Bureau

released figures showing that retail sales increased 0.9% for the month of February, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the revised January pace.

Fighting between ethnic Albanian rebels and Serbian forces broke out again near the Macedonian border after a U.S. envoy held an unproductive meeting with Yugoslav President

Slobodan Milosevic

.

Tech

Charles Schwab

(SCH)

is settling with about 300 investors who say they suffered significant losses when they were unable to cancel online market orders for

theglobe.com's

(TGLO)

IPO.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

International

U.K. insurer

Prudential Corp. PLC

is buying mutual fund firm

M&G Group

for about $3.1 billion in cash.

Telecom Italia

(TI)

made a $30 billion offer to buy its cellular unit,

Telecom Italia Mobile

, in an effort to ward off or sweeten

Olivetti's

$58 billion hostile takeover offer by dramatically increasing its value. Olivetti had asked

Consob

, Italy's stock market regulator, to intervene in the plan, which Olivetti claims would be illegal as long as its tender offer for Telecom Italia is on the table.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

Elsewhere

Rapper

Russell Jones

-- a.k.a. ODB, for "Ol' Dirty Bastard" -- has been jailed on charges of wearing body armor, which is illegal for violent felons in the California. During the bail hearing, Deputy District Attorney Mary Ganahl requested that Judge Kevin Brown take into consideration Jones' status as head of a "street gang" named

Wu-Tang Clan.

A group protesting

Chevron's

(CHV)

business activities in Nigeria rained pies upon CEO

Kenneth Derr

as he arrived for a speech at a Bay-area high school. Derr wiped the pie off his face and gave his speech.

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