Markets

Stocks opened modestly to the upside as the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

briefly poked through the 10K mark before falling back sharply.

European bourses generally were higher at midday, while the euro dropped sharply against the dollar after the

European Union's

20-member executive body resigned over a report accusing it of corruption and financial ineptitude. Asian markets continued to surge, with Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

gaining 74.39 to 10,911.25 and Japan's

Nikkei

soaring 293.22 to 16,072.82.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

Global natural gas and electricity firm

Enron

(ENE)

is taking its Houston-based water unit,

Azurix

, public. Azurix filed Monday with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

for an IPO of $863 million in common stock.

Charles P. "Buzz" McCormick, the 70-year old chairman of spice company

McCormick & Co.

(MCCRK)

, is stepping down from his post. This is his second such retirement.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

The $300 barrier has been broken.

Microworkz Computer

yesterday unveiled the

WEBzter Jr.

, a desktop computer priced at $299. The

WEBzter Jr.

has a Cyrix 300 MII processor and comes with a year's free Internet access from

EarthLink Network

(ELNK)

.

Online computer retailer

Cyberian Outpost

(COOL)

is entering the Web auction fray. The company today launches its auction site,

OutpostAuctions.com

.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

General News

Amtrak's

City of New Orleans passenger train derailed about 50 miles south of Chicago while en route to the Crescent City, killing at least 12 people and injuring more than 100 others.

The

Commerce Department

today released figures showing single-family home construction rising 1.1% for February, the highest clip since December of 1978. A sharp decline in apartment construction knocked overall housing starts down 0.6% for the month.

International

The latest bidding war: U.K. specialty phosphate maker

Rhodia

(RHA)

offered $737 million for rival

Albright & Wilson

, besting the bid made by U.S. chemical firm

Albemarle

(ALB) - Get Report

on March 8.

French auto maker

Renault

is buying a controlling interest in

Nissan Motor

(NSANY)

in a deal that should be announced today, according to

The Associated Press

, which cited an anonymous Nissan executive. Renault's board of directors is meeting today.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

Elsewhere

Oops. Boxing judge Larry O'Connell said he mistakenly scored the

Lennox Lewis

-

Evander Holyfield

fight a draw, and that he actually believed Lewis had won the fight. He told the tabloid

Sun

: "When someone said my scorecard added up to a draw my heart sank. I was as surprised as anyone.''

The

Buffalo Bills

have signed quarterback

Doug Flutie

to a four-year extension worth $22 million, locking up the popular and dimunitive star through the age of 74.

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