The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 39.0°F | A Few Clouds

News Briefs

Banking Bill to Get Private Hearing


With the fate of a landmark banking bill hanging in the balance, Republican leaders decided Thursday to effectively discontinue public negotiations between the House and Senate and instead engage in secret talks to resolve issues with the White House over community investment laws.

House Banking Chairman James Leach (R-Iowa) sent a memo at noon telling lawmakers conducting the negotiations that their meeting at 2 p.m. Wednesday “will be the last meeting of the conference” and that “there will be no vote on the final” version of the bill, according to a copy of the memo.

Leach chairs the conference committee of House and Senate members trying to reconcile different versions of bank legislation passed by the two chambers earlier this year. The legislation would overhaul banking law from the 1930s and 1950s to make it easier for banks, insurers and securities firms to merge with each other and sell their products under one company name.

Lawmakers on the conference committee convened at 2 p.m. as planned, and spent the rest of the day and into the evening discussing how the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which requires banks to lend to underserved people, should be applied in a bank overhaul bill.

Stocks Plunge After IBM’s Warning


Stock prices plunged at Thursday’s opening after IBM surprised investors with a warning that Y2K fears were already hurting sales of its high-end servers, but the market recovered somewhat as bargain-hunters snapped up beaten-down technology stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average -- which fell to 10,229.62 by midday, down more than 160 points -- bounced back to close at 10,297.69, a loss of 94.67 points. IBM, heavily weighted in the Dow, was responsible for 80 points of the loss. Its own stock fell $16 to $91.

IBM had said after the close of Wednesday’s trading that businesses were postponing purchases of its products until any lingering questions about Year 2000 computer bugs are answered. The company reported third-quarter earnings of 93 cents a share, meeting analysts’ expectations, but said profits would be hurt in the next two quarters by as much as 15 to 20 cents per share.

The warning initially had a knock-out effect on other technology stocks. At one point the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 22 points over the previous day’s close, but managed to close up 13.82 points at 2801.995. Microsoft touched a low of $90.50 but closed at $93.0625, marginally up over Wednesday’s close of $92.50. Intel also sank to a low of $67.875, but rallied to finish the day at $71.6875 against the previous close of $69.9375.

Joint Chiefs Ask for Larger Budgets


After a year of jumps in defense spending, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday that the military is still short more than $8 billion for new equipment, maintenance and other needs in fiscal 2000 and will be shy roughly the same amount in each of the next five years.

Making a renewed pitch for still larger military budgets, the chiefs told a House panel that many of the readiness problems their forces have been experiencing-aging equipment, maintenance backlogs, deteriorating bases, falling recruitment and retention rates-remain concerns and will require more money than the administration or Congress plan to spend.

The military leaders noted some pockets of improvement, particularly in troop morale and retention rates, as a result of passage this month of a $268 billion defense spending bill that included a 4.8 percent pay raise. But they said last spring’s air war against Yugoslavia and new peacekeeping requirements in Kosovo had strained U.S. forces, underscoring persistent weaknesses in military readiness.