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Weekend Report: First Security Plans to Buy Zions Bancorp

Also, Merrill Lynch says some of the 900 sexual discrimination claims filed against it appear to have merit.

First Securityundefined said Sunday it would buy Zions Bancorp (ZION) - Get Zions Bancorporation (ZION) Report in a $5.9 billion stock swap, creating the 20th-largest bank holding company in the U.S. in terms of assets.

Zions shareholders will get one share of First Security for each share held. First Security stockholders will get 0.442 of a share of the new, combined company, which will be known as First Security and will have about $40 billion in combined assets, the companies said in a joint statement. The two banks operate primarily in the Western U.S.

Saudi and Mexican energy ministers met over the weekend to discuss what strategy to implement when the current oil production cuts expire at the end of the year. Mexican energy minister Luis Tellez said Sunday that major oil producers would hold talks in the third or fourth quarter of 1999. The world's major oil producers had agreed in March to cut production by 1.7 million barrels a day.

Delphi Automotive Systems

(DPH)

plans to give its hourly workers the same pension terms as those negotiated by the

United Auto Workers

with its former parent,

General Motors

(GM) - Get General Motors Company (GM) Report

,

The Detroit News

said Sunday. The decision was made last week.

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

is acknowledging that some of the 900 sexual discrimination claims filed against the firm appear to have merit. In a memo distributed Friday to its national sales staff, Merrill said it was "prepared either to begin settlement discussions or to seek additional information on about one-third'' of the claims. The complaints were made as part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed in early 1997 alleging gender bias in wages, promotions and other areas of employment.

Here we go again.

Northwest Airlines

(NWAC)

flight attendants voted to strike, their union said Saturday, setting the stage for the second work stoppage in a year at the nation's fourth-largest airline.

Of the 8,735 ballots cast, only 49 opposed a strike, according to a message to members of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 2000, which represents Northwest flight attendants,

Reuters

reported.

In the Papers

Thanks, Charismatic.

After these last few unsettling weeks, the market would like a jolt of good news. Charismatic's show finish (that's third) in Saturday's Belmont Stakes could be it, according to

Barron's

TheStreet Recommends

. The weekly noted, prior to the race, that years with Triple Crown winners have been historically bad for the market:

Seattle Slew's

hat trick in 1977 was accompanied by a 17.27% drop in the

Dow

.

However, when the winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness flubs the Belmont, as front-runner Charismatic did, the Dow has risen in 11 of 14 years. Hey, with the

Federal Reserve

looking like its going to hike interest rates at least once, the market has to believe in something.

Of course, it could believe Alan Abelson's assertion that the Fed will be loath to hike interest rates if the President's in a bad mood. He ties the Fed's upcoming decision on whether to raise interest rates to

President Clinton's

approval rating, which may or may not be eroding due to the fall in the Dow (of course, there's Kosovo, China, no more Rubin, that woman, that Vice President, etc.) It's an interesting, albeit unconvincing, thesis.

Barron's

international telecom forum, a roundtable discussion with Oscar Castro of

Montgomery Asset Management

, Marc Gabelli of

Gabelli Funds

, and Jack Grubman of

Salomon Smith Barney

is this week's cover. The three attempt, as all stock pickers do, to determine who's going to emerge from the growing, crowded field of telecommunications in the next century. Suffice it to say they like a lot of stuff (except most of the former state-owned European telecom companies).

Let's be careful out there. Internet mania is over,

The New York Times'

Sunday business section announces, and though the getting is still good, the mudslinging by Internet investors has begun in earnest. The

Securities and Exchange Commission

reported 35 filings for net-related IPOs in May, and the

Times

quotes several who believe the time for a cooling off is right. (Of course, these people aren't anxious CEOs waiting to get rich off their own IPOs.)