Some inflation-friendly economic data (see below) and generally happy earnings news didn't do much for the blue-chips today. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

slid sideways, shaving off 26.92 to 11,148.10 on narrowly negative breadth. The broader

S&P 500

fared a bit better, adding 4.61 to 1398.17.

The technology sector was another story. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

rallied 39.75 to 2817.98, led by a rampant semiconductor sector -- the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

gained about 4.2%, powered by SOX component


(INTC) - Get Report

and its multilayered earnings report (see below).

The small-cap

Russell 2000

picked up 3.35 to 461.46, and Internet Sector

index advanced 4.11 to 657.21.

The 30-year Treasury bond fell 4/32 to 90 24/32, its yield rising to 5.915%.

The big European indices finished solidly higher, with Germany's

Xetra Dax

and the London


up 0.7% and 0.4%, respectively. Markets in Paris were closed for Bastille Day.

Asian markets went both hither and thither overnight. Tokyo's


added 176.77, or 1%, to 18,357.86. But Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

tanked 405.36, or 2.9%, to 13,575.57 amid the recent strife between China and Taiwan, as well as rumors of a devaluation of the yuan.

More markets news and commentary are available in


Markets section.


Dow component



posted second-quarter earnings of 70 cents a share, in line with the 15-analyst

First Call

estimate and up from the year-ago 61 cents.

First Union


posted second-quarter operating earnings of 82 cents a share, a penny above the 27-analyst view but down from last year's 97 cents. Analysts had forecast earnings of 97 cents a share before First Union issued a profit warning in May.

The first of the big auto companies reported second-quarter earnings today with a bang.


(F) - Get Report

said it earned $2 a share for the period, 4 cents above the 16-analyst consensus and up from last year's $1.91.

More news on companies and stocks is available in


Stock News section.



(AAPL) - Get Report

posted third-quarter earnings of 69 cents a share, a nickel above the 16-analyst estimate and up from the 50 cents earned last year.





set plans to merge in a tax-free stock transaction valued at about $400 million. Onsale will exchange 0.565 of a share for each share outstanding, a ratio that values Egghead at about $12.71 a share, a slight premium to its closing price yesterday of 12 1/16.



reported a loss of 10 cents a share for its third quarter, 2 cents narrower than the 13-analyst consensus and better than last year's loss of 15 cents.

The microchip pricing war has taken a little chunk out of


(INTC) - Get Report

numbers. The chip giant yesterday reported second-quarter earnings of 51 cents a share, 2 cents below the 31-analyst estimate but ahead of the year-ago 33 cents. But Intel reassured investors that stronger results will come in the second half of the year, and they seem sufficiently relieved -- Intel added 2 11/16 to 68.

covered the

mixed report last night.



yesterday posted second-quarter earnings of 44 cents a share, topping the 28-analyst estimate of 41 cents and far ahead of the year-ago penny. Motorola also said it won't bankroll struggling

Iridium World Communications


any further unless partners

Lockheed Martin

(LMT) - Get Report




help restructure the struggling satellite phone company. Motorola listed Iridium's three options as out-of-court restructuring, Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and, finally, liquidation.

Tibco Software

(TIBX:Nasdaq) shot up 17 3/8, or 116%, to 32 3/8 on its first day of trading. The company, which is majority-owned by



, was priced yesterday at $15 a share by lead underwriter

Goldman Sachs

, at the top end of its pricing range.



is set to announce a deal with Australian Internet start-up


to offer its auction services in Australia and New Zealand, according to


, which cited people familiar with the agreement.

More tech news and commentary are available in


Tech Stocks section.

General News


Labor Department

released the June

producer price index

, which fell 0.1% vs. an expected jump of the same amount and a 0.2% increase the previous month. The core rate, which excludes food and energy costs, dropped 0.2%, as opposed to the 0.1% rise estimated by economists and the 0.1% jump in May's core PPI. Meanwhile, the

Census Bureau

released figures showing

retail sales

increased 0.1% in June, 0.2 percentage point below forecasts and down from last month's revised 1.2% clip. Excluding automobiles, retail sales rose 0.4%, meeting expectations and down 0.1 percentage point from last month's 0.5% jump.

The state of Florida charged aircraft maintenance contractor


with third-degree murder and manslaughter yesterday for its role in the May 1996 crash of a

ValuJet Airlines

DC-9 that killed 110 people. The state's indictment accuses the company, which is a subsidiary of privately held St. Louis-based


, of mislabeling oxygen canisters loaded onto the ValuJet plane.


South Korea sold an 8% stake in

Pohang Iron & Steel

(PKX) - Get Report

, or


, the world's largest steel maker. The government raised $1.01 billion through the sale of Posco ADRs in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

More international news and commentary are available in


International section.


Tight labor markets seem to be extending beyond the U.S. and the U.K. Police rescued two spider monkeys from a drug-selling ring after raiding a narcotics house Monday in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The monkeys had been trained to greet addicts at the door and to retrieve drugs from hiding places when customers presented them with the currency they were trained to recognize. Noting the singularity of the bust, officer Imamul Hossain Feroz said: "We have seen many uses of monkeys for entertainment, but never found anyone using them as drug peddlers."

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