Wednesday, May 19, 1999

Stocks close solidly higher in light, narrow trading; bomb blast hits Macedonia; Rubin says IMF, Ecuador have reached an agreement.
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Markets

First you get the data, then you get the money -- such is the thinking of a confused equity market coming to grips with the news that its

Fed

has certain "inclinations." There wasn't much data to ponder today, besides some discouraging airline revenue figures, which slapped the transports silly. The number-candy comes tomorrow morning, when the

Commerce Departement

releases its weekly

initial jobless claims

figures.

After bobbing in narrow ranges all day long, the major proxies rallied late to close solidly higher, albeit on quite light volume. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

gained 50.44 to 10,887.39; the

Nasdaq Composite Index

added 19.04 to 2577.40; the

S&P 500

rose 10.91 to 1344.23; the smallish-cap

Russell 2000

gained 3.69 to 446.14; and

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index plumped up 8.14 to 647.50.

The bond market, on the other hand, sustained a rally for most of the day, the 30-year Treasury closing more than a point higher.

The big European indices finished higher, paced by the Paris

CAC

, which rose about 1.5%. Asian markets retreated overnight, as Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

lost 223.96, or 1.8%, to 12,403.14, and Tokyo's

Nikkei

fell 250.44, or 1.5%, to 16,128.44.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

Transportation stocks got walloped after

BT Alex. Brown

said the deterioration of the airline industry's monthly revenue trends "is only likely to get worse." The comment came after

Air Transport Association

released figures last night showing revenue per airline seat falling by 3% in April, a drop as much as 1.5% steeper than analysts expected. Transport carnage was highlighted by

United Airlines

parent

UAL

(UAL) - Get Report

, which dumped 5 7/8, or 7.3%, to 74 11/16.

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

set plans to cut 2,500 jobs by the end of the year to trim expenses in its telephone network and operations unit.

Mutual dental insurer

Guardian Life Insurance

is buying managed dental care firm

First Commonwealth

(FCWI)

for $25 a share in cash.

Diversified manufacturer

Tyco International

(TYC)

is buying telecommunications cable company

Raychem

(RYC)

for $3.27 billion in cash, stock and assumed debt. Tyco plans to integrate Raychem's business with its electronics business.

That's a lot of bags of peanuts: Phoenix-based business-services firm

Viad

(VVI) - Get Report

is selling its airline catering subsidiary,

Dobbs International

, to

Swissair

parent

SAirGroup

for $780 million. SAirGroup plans to combine Dobbs with its own airline-catering unit,

Gate Gourmet

.

Fortifying its Golden State presence,

U.S. Bancorp

(USB) - Get Report

agreed to buy Southern California bank holding company

Western Bancorp

(WEBC)

.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

and

Lycos

(LCOS)

each posted quarterly results in line with or better than analysts' expectations last night.

TSC

covered the

numbers , and took closer looks in stories on

Applied Materials and

Dell.

Closeout retailer

Consolidated Stores

(CNS) - Get Report

plans to merge its

kbtoys.com

Web site with closely held online toy seller

BrainPlay.com

.

Web health-care service provider

Healtheon

(HLTH)

confirmed its plans to buy privately held rival

WebMD

. The deal will be a $5.5 billion stock transaction, according to

The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition

, which cited people familiar with the matter. The new company's backers may include

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

,

Excite

(EXCT)

and

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, wrote the

Journal

.

TheGlobe.com

(TGLO)

today priced its secondary offering of 6 million shares -- 2.5 million of which belonged to some lucky shareholders -- at $20 a share. The company originally planned an offering of 8 million shares, but scaled things back to accommodate market conditions that a company spokeswoman said "have not been favorable."

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

General News

A bomb exploded today outside the main mosque in the Macedonian capital of Skopje, killing two. The explosion occurred as

U.N.

Secretary-General

Kofi Annan

was visiting refugees along the Macedonia-Yugoslavia border north of Skopje.

NATO

jets continued to bomb Yugoslavian targets, though the alliance said the strikes were slowed by poor weather conditions. Serbian state media reported that NATO missiles caused "great material damage" and four civilian deaths in Kosovo. Meanwhile, envoys from the

G7

group and Russia met in Bonn to refine the draft of a U.N. peace resolution for Kosovo.

International

Treasury Secretary

Robert Rubin

said the

International Monetary Fund

and Ecuador have reached a preliminary agreement on new loans. He didn't give details of the agreement, however.

BP Amoco's

(BPA)

10% stake in Russian oil company

Sidanko

will hang in the balance for at least another year, after a Moscow arbitration panel yesterday ruled that Sidanko be placed under external management for 12 months. BP Amoco, which is also a large Sidanko creditor, bought its stake for $571 million in 1997, but has been in danger of losing it since bankruptcy proceedings were brought against the Russian company in January.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

Elsewhere

We've come to expect more than this sort of minor infraction from America's Team.

Dallas Cowboys

linebacker

Broderick Thomas

was arrested on two outstanding traffic warrants last night by the

Irving Police Department

, which released him in less than two hours on an $865 bond. But all hope's not lost for Thomas -- he's still under criminal investigation for an unrelated fight, according to an unnamed department supervisor quoted by

The Associated Press

.

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