Markets

Stocks were trading sharply higher at midday. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was posting strong gains on a broad technology surge, while the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was soaring on the coattails of

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

, lately up 7 to 173 3/4 on news of a new deal with

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

(see below). The Internet sector was flat.

Major European bourses closed mixed, while Asian markets were flat. Japan's

Nikkei

gained 13.09 to 14,183.45, and Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

lost 9.64 to 9912.76.

The Brazilian

Senate

yesterday approved the nomination of

Arminio Fraga

as head of that country's central bank.

TheStreet.com's

Peter Eavis

weighed in yesterday on the new chief's prospects.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

Mattel

(MAT) - Get Report

is shaking up its management team. The company announced the resignations of President and COO Bruce Stein and Gary Baughman, president of the company's

Fisher-Price

unit.

Mobil

(MOB)

and

Atlantic Richfield

(ARC) - Get Report

have told Iran they are interested in developing its oil and gas reserves. The move comes just days after France's

Elf Aquitaine

(ELF) - Get Report

and Italy's

ENI

(E) - Get Report

risked penalties under the U.S. government's Iran-Libya Sanctions Act by inking a $540 million oil development deal with Iran.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

CMGI

(CMGI)

today is announcing its acquisition of Austin, Texas-based

Activerse

, whose instant-messaging technology will compete with

America Online's

(AOL)

ICQ

system.

TSC's

George Mannes

had

the story early this morning.

IBM and Dell announced a broad, $16 billion technology

pact over seven years.

German software firm

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

said that Jeremy Coote, president of its U.S. operations, has left for rival

Siebel Systems

.

TSC

reporter

Medora Lee

broke the story on

Tuesday .

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

General News

Retired

Supreme Court

Justice

Harry A. Blackmun

, author of the 1973

Roe vs. Wade

decision, died today from complications following hip-replacement surgery. He was 90 years old.

Jordan's

King Abdullah

has named his prime minister:

Abdul-Raouf Rawabdeh

, a longstanding supporter of the late

King Hussein

and Jordan's 1994 peace accord with Israel.

International

Alcatel's

(ALA)

U.S. expansion continues. The French telecom equipment firm is acquiring remote-access Internet technology company

Assured Access Technology

in a $350 million deal.

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

is merging its Canadian operations into, and eventually will buy, local Canadian phone provider

MetroNet Communications

in a $2.3 billion deal. The resulting entity will be called

AT&T Canada

.

British Sky Broadcasting's

(BSY)

merger talks with French television company

Canal Plus

have been suspended over the fundamental issue of which company will control the resulting entity.

Fifteen Japanese banks today applied to that country's

Financial Reconstruction Commission

for $62 billion in aid.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

Elsewhere

Clearing the way for the expected release of

Scott Mitchell

, the

Detroit Lions

have signed quarterback

Gus Frerotte

a month after he was cut by the

Washington Redskins

. Frerotte follows in the hallowed footsteps of such past Lions QBs as

Rodney Peete

,

Erik Kramer

,

Eric Hipple

,

Chuck Long

,

Andre Ware

and

Gary Danielson

.

Have a dumb question relating to finance? Great. Have a

really

dumb question? Even better. Send it to

MonEmailbag@thestreet.com, and I'll do my best to answer. Include your full name, and please, no questions seeking personal financial advice or regarding personal brokerage disputes. And this reminder: Because of the volume of mail, personal replies can't be guaranteed.

Click

here to read the latest MonEmailbag.