Markets

Inspiring no one, stocks went from bad to worse in the final hour of trading, sending all the major proxies deep into the red. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

lost 123.58 to 10,531.09; the

Nasdaq Composite Index

shed 72.88 to 2380.78; the

S&P 500

fell 22.27 to 1284.38; the smallish-cap

Russell 2000

sank 5.68 to 434.71; and

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index plummeted 26.35 to 550.33.

The big European indices finished in the red, led by Frankfurt's

Dax

, which closed off more than 2%. Asian markets were lower overnight, as Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

shed 89.95 to 12,346.91, and Tokyo's

Nikkei

fell 176.26, or 1.1%, to 16,214.23.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

More bad news in the banking sector.

First Union

(FTU)

warned that second-quarter and 1999 earnings will fall short of expectations. For the full year, the bank expects to earn from $3.40 to $3.50 a share, far short of the current

First Call

25-analyst forecast of $3.98 a share. First Union expects second-quarter earnings to come out between 80 and 83 cents a share, way below the 22-analyst forecast of 97 cents.

Federated Department Stores

(FD)

is buying a 20% stake in online wedding services firm

Wedding Channel

,

The Wall Street Journal

reported. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

McKesson HBOC

(MCK) - Get Report

, which last month saw a sharp drop in its stock after it revised its preliminary year-end results, said "further downward revision will be required of those fiscal year's results as well as of quarterly results during the fiscal year."

Thermo Electric

(TMO) - Get Report

will take a $450 million pretax restructuring charge and reacquire minority stakes in four subsidiaries that the company spun off to the public in the early 1990s.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

One thing is clear about

barnesandnoble.com

(BNBN:Nasdaq), at least so far: It ain't no

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

. The stock gained 4 15/16 to 22 15/16 in its first day of trading, after pricing last night at $18 a share, at the top of its $16-to-$18 range.

Datek Online

won't be going public anytime soon, having secured a $300 million raft of

financing from a group headed by

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

co-founder

Paul Allen

and

Group Arnault

, the holding company of French billionaire

Bernard Arnault

.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

General News

A bipartisan congressional report released today claims that China has been working to steal U.S. weapons technology secrets for two decades, making that country ready to develop weapons systems "on par with our own." Beijing denounced the report as an attempt to divert attention from the

NATO

bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia entered its third month today, as war planes struck targets across the country, including the abandoned Serb police headquarters in Belgrade. Meanwhile, amid reports of intense fighting between Serbs and ethnic Albanian rebels, the Yugoslav army banned anti-war demonstrations protesting the conscription of male relatives, according to an official army statement in the daily

Vijesti

newspaper.

International

British pub, restaurant and hotel operator

Whitbread

agreed to buy

Allied Domecq's

3,500 U.K. pubs for $3.78 billion in stock and assumed debt. Allied CEO Tony Hales also announced plans to retire; he'll be replaced by Finance Director Philip Bowman.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

Elsewhere

The

New York Knickerbockers

yesterday completed a four-game sweep of the anemic

Atlanta Hawks

. They'll face the

Indiana Pacers

in the Eastern Conference finals.

The

New Jersey Nets

have held talks with former

Georgetown

coach

John Thompson

about taking the reins of the

NBA

team, according to

The Record

. The paper also wrote that the team has already offered

Phil Jackson

what it calls one of the biggest contracts in sports history.

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 every Saturday. 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.