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Looming suits hit Microsoft shares

Microsoft stock falls amid renewed speculation that antitrust regulators would file another lawsuit next week.

    Microsoft stock fell today amid renewed speculation that antitrust regulators would file another lawsuit against the software giant next week.

    The shares fell 3 to 83.3750 in trading. The stock recently has traded as high as 99.125

    Until now, Microsoft's stock largely has been immune to the company's ongoing legal battle over allegedly monopolistic practices. The company has been vehement in denying any wrongdoing.

    But speculation about another lawsuit is mounting. It is not new, but it is now coming from all sides.

    Business Week will report in its May 18 edition that "Barring a last-minute settlement, the Justice Department is prepared to launch an expansive antitrust action against Microsoft within days." It added: "Meanwhile, officials from states including Texas, New York, and California are in the final stages of assembling their own lawsuit--probably in federal court and most likely with some coordination with the Justice Department."

    The Seattle Times also weighed in with a report that stated: "The Justice Department is putting the finishing touches on a broad antitrust lawsuit, to be filed as early as next week, aimed at Microsoft's business practices surrounding Windows 98 and its handling of a competitor's software programming language."

    On Tuesday, Microsoft chairman and chief executive Bill Gates, accompanied by his attorneys, met with top officials from the Justice Department's antitrust division to exchange views on the case. The parties made no progress in resolving their differences, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.