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Thursday, May 20, 1999

After waiting all day for good news to call, the indices slumped dejectedly at the close. Meanwhile, little guy Russell 2000 cartwheeled higher.


The major proxies were just itching for some action after tiptoeing around break-even all day in narrow trading ranges. So, for lack of reasons to do otherwise -- cheery economic data and earnings reports scarce these days -- they plummeted in the session's final hour.

Tech and Internet stocks sold off hard, sending the

Nasdaq Composite Index

down 34.98 to 2542.42 and Internet Sector

index off 22.71 to 624.79; the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

dropped 20.65 to 10,866.74; the

S&P 500

fell 5.40 to 1338.83.

But positive breadth on both major exchanges helped the

Russell 2000

up 1.89 to 448.03.

The big European indices finished higher, with the Paris


, Frankfurt's


and London's


all closing up more than 1%.



rallied to close fractionally higher; last night the country's monetary policy committee,


, cut the benchmark interest rate to 23.5% from 27%. Asian markets were mixed overnight, as Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

slipped 27.72 to 12,375.42, while Tokyo's


added 71.81 to 16,199.99.

For more markets action and news, click




Boston Properties

set plans for a secondary offering of 4 million shares. The firm seeks to raise $141 million to reduce its debt.

Dole Food

(DOL) - Get Free Report

warned that its second-quarter earnings won't make analysts' expectations, due to competition in the

European Union

and weak demand in Eastern Europe and Russia. Dole said it expects to earn between 55 cents and 75 cents a share, in addition to insurance recovery proceeds of 10 cents to 15 cents a share for damage by Hurricane Mitch.

John M. Devine is stepping down as

Ford Motor's

(F) - Get Free Report

CFO, with Vice Chairman W. Wayne Booker taking over on July 1.


(GPS) - Get Free Report

set plans for a 3-for-2 stock split for shareholders of record as of June 4, to be distributed June 21.


(MCD) - Get Free Report


Jack M. Greenberg

chairman and CEO, effective immediately. Greenberg previously was president and CEO.

For more news on companies and stocks, click



filed with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

for an initial public offering, to be managed by

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter


Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette


Thomas Weisel Partners

. The company, of which

(AMZN) - Get Free Report

owns 40%, did not disclose the size of the offering.

Online toy seller


(ETYS:Nasdaq) exploded in its first day of trading. The company gained 57, or 285%, to 76 9/16 after being priced last night at $20 a share by lead underwriter

Goldman Sachs


Privately held publishing company


is talking with investment bankers to explore the possibility of taking its online assets public.



the story last night.



said that it has signed a definitive merger pact with privately held


. The stock transaction is valued at about $5.5 billion, and each company will owning half of the resulting entity. After soaring 43.4% yesterday, Healtheon shot up a further 21 3/16, or 26.63%, to 100 5/8.

Computer product distributor

Tech Data

(TECD) - Get Free Report

won a contract making it the information technology supplier for

General Electric

(GE) - Get Free Report


GE Capital IT Solutions

. Tech Data said it expects the three-year deal to general about $2 billion in annual sales.

TCI Music


set plans to buy a 10% stake in the online music operations of


(VIA) - Get Free Report


MTV Networks

. Under the deal, MTV Networks' online music ventures will buy music Web site



Liberty Media


, which owns 86% of TCI Music.

For more tech news and commentary, click


General News

Attorney General

Janet Reno

said that Switzerland's

Roche Holding

and Germany's


will pay $500 million and $225 million, respectively, to settle

Justice Department

charges of price-fixing in the worldwide vitamin market. Kuno Summer, former director of worldwide marketing for Hoffman-LaRoche vitamans and fine chemicals, will serve a four-month prison sentence and pay a $100,000 fine. Reno added that there are "up to a dozen other companies involved in this."


Commerce Department

released figures showing the U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly widening to a record $19.7 billion for the month of March, $1.2 billion more than economists forecast and up from the $19.4 billion deficit for February. Meanwhile the

Labor Department

reported that initial jobless claims stood at 299,000 for the week ended May 15, a tad under expectations and last month's 303,000.

Exactly a month after the April 20 shootings at

Columbine High School

in Littleton, Colo., a student opened fire at

Heritage High School

, near Conyers, Ga., injuring six of his classmates.


U.K. banking giant


(BCS) - Get Free Report

set plans to eliminate 6,000 jobs, or 10% of its retail and corporate banking staff. The company will take a $646 million charge for the cost-cutting measure.

The latest in the battle between

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Free Report




Telecom Italia


: Olivetti is positioned to win between 42% and 47% of shareholder acceptances for its $65 billion unsolicited tender offer for Telecom Italia, according to a wide array of reports citing a senior financial source familiar with the matter. Telecom Italia said it would seek the suspension of the bid, charging "agitation and market manipulation," though Olivetti denied it was the source of the reports on the increased number of acceptances.

For more international news and commentary, click




Doobie Brothers

guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter is mulling a run for a seat in the California House. Baxter, a college dropout who, according to the defunct


magazine, got his nickname from an unlucky person on whom he once accidentally urinated, supports the

National Rifle Association

, the ballistic missile defense system and abortion rights. And doobies.

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