Markets

Stocks were in a slow-motion free-fall at midafternoon, as most major indices trended lower in sympathy with the 30-year Treasury bond's

continuing slide.

Major European bourses closed lower, while Asian markets finished in the black. Japan's

Nikkei

shot up 249.30 to 14,170.36 as the

Bank of Japan

knocked the overnight call rate to a record low of 0.02% with another rush of funds into that country's interbank lending market. Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

gained 8.82 to 9922.40.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

Do these go together? Completing its outfit,

Jones Apparel Group

(JNY)

agreed to acquire shoe company

Nine West Group

(NIN)

for $885 million in stock and cash, as well as $550 million in debt.

Republic Industries

(RII)

has decided to take its 64% stake in solid waste company

Republic Services

(RSG) - Get Report

public after failing to get the

Internal Revenue Service

to sign off on a tax-free distribution of the subsidiary to Republic Industries' shareholders.

RJR Nabisco Holdings

(RN)

will unload its overseas tobacco operations within the next 10 days, according to

The Wall Street Journal

.

TSC

reported on the furious call buying in RJR on Monday.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

Responding to both a slowing personal computers segment and its own lack of penetration into the consumer market,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

is set to launch

Gigabuys.com

, an online store selling computer-related products made by other companies.

Computer networking equipment firm

3Com

(COMS)

will miss its numbers by a Texas mile. The company warned investors that it expects to report operating income of about 23 cents a share, as opposed to the 36-cents-a-share

First Call

consensus.

French telecom equipment company

Alcatel

(ALA)

confirmed that it will buy U.S. data communications firm

Xylan

(XYLN)

in a deal valued at $2 billion.

Dutch electronics company

Philips Electronics

(PHG) - Get Report

is taking off the kid gloves in its bid for U.S. semiconductor manufacturer

VLSI Technology

(VLSI)

. The company is ready to ask shareholders to oust the board if VLSI if it doesn't start negotiating with Philips' $777 million takeover offer, according to

The Wall Street Journal

.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

General News

The banana war is taking to the air. The

House

today passed a bill that would bar the supersonic

Concorde

jet from U.S. airspace if the

European Union

puts into practice recently approved rules prohibiting U.S. planes fitted with "hush kit" engine mufflers, which the EU has deemed excessively air polluting.

Tennessee Sen.

Fred Thompson

said he won't make a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, and instead will throw his support behind his state's former governor,

Lamar Alexander

.

Ugandan and Rwandan soldiers began the manhunt for the Rwandan rebels who killed eight foreign tourists, including Americans Rob Haubner and his wife, Susan Miller, both

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

employees. Uganda's president,

Yoweri Museveni

, apologized for the killings today.

International

The Hong Kong government said that it "should now commence intensive negotiations with a view to determining by June 1999" whether

Disney

(DIS) - Get Report

will build a theme park on reclaimed land north of Lantau Island. Separately, Financial Secretary

Donald Tsang

said Hong Kong faces a 1999 budget deficit of about $3.1 billion -- or nearly 80 million single-day passes to

Disneyland

.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

Elsewhere

World's Most Shocking Disinterments

? Hardly. In a two-hour dig broadcast by

Fox TV

(FOX) - Get Report

, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass found, of all things, a mummy and a skeleton in two tombs and a small pyramid of

Queen Khamerernebty II

. Hawass described the mummy as "a regular mummy."

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