Wednesday, Feb. 17, 1999

Stocks take a turn for the worse; SCANA to buy another Southern utility.
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Markets

U.S. stocks took a sharp downturn at midafternoon after spending most of the day paring early losses. Faring worst were large technology issues, most notably

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

(see below).

The

Securities and Exchange Commission

suspended trading of bulletin board stocks

Shebolt

(SEBT:OTC BB),

Redwing

(RWIG:OTC BB) and

CPR

(CPZR:OTC BB) until March 2 because of questions about the accuracy of public statements made by the companies.

European bourses closed lower, and Japan's

Nikkei 225

lost 73.97 to 14,158.67. Most other Asian markets were closed for the New Year holidays.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

A federal judge gave the pilot's union of

AMR

(AMR)

unit

American Airlines

until April 12 to defend itself against contempt-of-court charges stemming from the union's failure to report to work when ordered last week.

BP Amoco

(BPA)

announced that 3,000 jobs will be eliminated in addition to the 7,000 cuts the company has already announced.

Investment boutique

Evercore Partners

will buy

American Media

(ENQ)

, publisher of the

National Enquirer

and

Star

tabloids, for $300 million, and will hire veteran magazine publisher

David Pecker

to run the company.

H.J. Heinz

(HNZ)

said it will close or sell between 15 and 20 factories and lay off 3,000 to 4,000 workers over the next four years. The company will take a $900 million charge for the restructuring.

TSC

options reporter

Dan Colarusso

saw the

call-buying on Heinz last week.

Utility company

SCANA

(SCG)

, which serves South Carolina and Georgia, announced that it will buy

Public Service Co. of North Carolina

(PGS)

for $900 million in cash, stock and assumed debt.

Diversified manufacturer

United Technologies

said it is in talks with potential buyers to unload its auto parts business for about $2 billion.

Aircraft parts manufacturer

Wyman-Gordon

(WYG)

is cutting 350 jobs, citing slack Asian demand and slumping oil prices.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

Dell matched Wall Street estimates with fourth-quarter earnings of 31 cents a share and announced a 2-for-1 stock split. But slowing earnings growth has the stock lately down 8 to 80 3/4.

America Online

(AOL)

is in talks with

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

to develop a closer business relationship and may purchase a minority stake in the company, according to

The Wall Street Journal

.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

General News

The

Commerce Department

said that home construction increased 3.8% in January to a 12-year high.

A South African prosecutor is considering bringing murder charges against the officers accused of the 1977 beating death of anti-apartheid leader

Steve Biko

. Yesterday South Africa's

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

denied amnesty to three of the five officers. A fourth was denied amnesty in December, and the fifth has died since the killing, for which the officers have never admitted their culpability.

Indonesian police fired tear gas into a rioting crowd of 25,000 workers and protesters in Jakarta.

International

Nippon Steel

, Japan's No. 1 steel producer, called allegations that it and other Japanese steel companies are dumping exports "hard to understand."

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

Elsewhere

A 23-year old

Minnesota Vikings

fan

Brian Siegmann

pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors after being accused of setting two people on fire when they identified themselves as

Green Bay Packers

fans. In addition to paying a $200 fine and serving two years' probation, Siegmann -- the self-nominated "Grand Viking" -- will be assessed for drug and alcohol abuse.

O.J. Simpson's

Heisman Trophy was auctioned off along with other memorabilia for $430,000 last night. The proceeds will go toward the $33.5 million Simpson owes the families of

Nicole Brown Simpson

and

Ronald Goldman

. The Heisman itself brought $255,500.

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.

Click

here to read the latest MonEmailbag.

Concerned about the future of Net stocks?

TSC

is holding a special summit on Friday to discuss the Internet sector. Join columnists

James J. Cramer

and

Herb Greenberg

,

Andy Kessler

of

Velocity Capital

,

Nicholas Moore

of

Jurika & Voyles

,

CIBC Oppenheimer's Henry Blodget

,

(WWWFX) - Get Report

Internet Fund manager

Ryan Jacob

and

Brian Salerno

of

Munder Capital

. You'll be able to listen to a live broadcast of the event and later read the transcripts -- but first, help us shape the discussion. Visit

this page for the details.