Tuesday, February 2, 1999

Tech stocks give back gains; Brazil gets a new central bank president; Perot Systems shares soar on their debut.
Author:
Publish date:

Markets

U.S. stocks were trading sharply lower at midday, with big tech stocks spitting up gains accumulated during the recent string of record highs on the

Nasdaq Composite Index

.

European bourses closed lower, as did Asian markets, with Japan's

Nikkei 225

dumping 115.35 to close at 14,349.83, and Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

losing 96.83 to 9,502.72.

Francisco Lopes

is stepping down as president of Brazil's central bank, to be succeeded by

Arminio Fraga

, a former

George Soros

adviser. Finance Minister

Pedro Malan

said he will retain his office after his resignation was rejected by Brazil's president,

Fernando Henrique Cardoso

.

TSC

reported on the news today.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

Oil-services firm

Baker Hughes

(BHI)

will cut 2,450 jobs this year to cope with falling energy prices. The company laid off 4,000 workers last year.

TheStreet.com

reported on Baker Hughes' strategy in a

story yesterday.

Medical devices company

Medtronic

(MDT) - Get Report

said it has received

FDA

approval for its next-generation defibrillator, the

GEM II DR

.

Montgomery Ward

said it will emerge reorganized from Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the middle of this year.

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

finance arm

GE Capital

, which owns half of Montgomery Ward, will acquire the department store's direct-marketing

Signature Group

.

Polo Ralph Lauren

(RL) - Get Report

will close nine stores and cut 250 jobs after reporting sluggish third-quarter profits.

TSC

examined Polo's woes in a

story yesterday.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

will outsource production of its popular

iMac

personal computer to South Korea's

LG Electronics

. The LG contract will eliminate 450 jobs at Apple's plant in Cork, Ireland, as well as an unspecified number of jobs in plants in Singapore and Sacramento, Calif.

Welcome to AOL.

America Online

(AOL)

will buy

MovieFone

(MOFN)

for $388 million in stock and rename it

AOL MovieFone

. AOL plans to integrate the movie listing and ticketing service with its

Digital City

site.

Shares of tech consulting and services firm

Perot Systems

(PER) - Get Report

skyrocketed today, their first day of trading. The stock, priced at 16 a share, was lately up 26 to 42.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

International

China said it will close five of its largest state investment trusts for insolvency:

Bank of China's Dongfang Trust & Investment

;

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China's Huarong Trust & Investment

;

Agricultural Bank of China's Changcheng Trust & Investment

;

China Construction Bank's Xinda Trust & Investment

and the investment unit of

People's Insurance Co. of China

.

Olivetti

and German conglomerate

Mannesmann

have increased their stake of European mobile-phone network

Omnitel Pronto Italia

by gaining control over

Cellular Communications International

-- a holding company for 10.3% of Omnitel -- with a $1.8 billion bid. Olivetti and Mannesmann already own 40% of Omnitel through joint-venture

Oliman

.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

General News

U.S. warplanes dropped two bombs on an antiaircraft facility in Northern Iraq after being lit up by radar.

The impeachment trial of

President Clinton

today continues as

House

managers question

Vernon Jordan

.

Elsewhere

British publisher

Marion Boyars

, of the famed Soho publishing house

Calder & Boyars

, is dead at the age of 71.

The mausoleum holding

Vladimir Lenin's

body will close its doors until April 5, as doctors inject fresh embalming fluid and change his coat and tie.

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

really

dumb question? Even better. Send it to

MonEmailbag@thestreet.com, and

TSC

columnist

Herb Greenberg

and I will do our 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.