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The week in review: The markets' wild ride

Jittery over the turmoil in the Middle East, bad earnings, good earnings, warnings and rumors, investors weather a wild roller coaster.

Investors held tight to a wild roller coaster this week as markets were jolted by turmoil in the Middle East, earnings warnings and skeptical financial reports.

Stock markets spiraled most of the week before the Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 400 points Thursday on disappointing earnings news and concern that rising Middle East tensions may inflate energy prices. The decline was the Dow's fifth-largest point drop in history. Stocks rebounded Friday, however.

Web portal Yahoo reported third-quarter profit and revenue that slightly exceeded analyst expectations. However, shares fell sharply after hours as investors took to heart comments that the company is feeling the effects of the dot-com shakeout--a situation that could pinch revenue until next spring.

Lucent Technologies' financial woes continued as the telecommunications equipment maker said it expects next quarter's profits to be lower than expected. Shares fell in after-hours trading. Lucent executives blamed the earnings warning on its optical networking business and traditional voice products, as well as on potential bad loans to emerging service provider customers.

Advanced Micro Devices dodged the European flu by reporting better-than-expected earnings on record revenue, although the company said challenges lay ahead for the rest of the year. The company sold more than 3.6 million Duron and Athlon processors, as expected. Despite hitting its goal, AMD said the quarter was tougher than expected. AMD stock lost 6 percent on the news.

Motorola earnings matched Wall Street expectations on sales that were somewhat less than some analysts had predicted. Despite earnings in line with analysts' estimates, shares headed lower.

Executive exits
Netscape Communications veteran Jim Clark resigned from online health site WebMD's board, and the company's co-chief executive officer also left his post. Clark, a pioneer investor, has run into trouble with some of his recent Internet investments, including that in recently closed Kibu.com. The company did not disclose reasons for the departure of the two executives and did not name replacements to the board.

After just seven months on the job, Leo Hindery resigned as chief executive of Global Crossing. The company, which builds undersea and land-based fiber-optic telecommunications networks, said Hindery is resigning by mutual agreement. Hindery's resignation comes as the company has seen its stock fall steadily in recent months from a 52-week high of more than $61 to about $23.

Less than two weeks after Apple Computer said it would fall short of its revenue goals for the quarter, the company's chief sales executive announced he will leave the company at the end of the year. Mitch Mandich, senior vice president of worldwide sales, will retire from Apple at the end of December.

Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of X.com, which operates money-transferring site PayPal, is preparing to step down. Musk said X.com is looking for a "superstar CEO," one with more experience at directing a growing financial institution. PayPal allows consumers and businesses to transfer money via email.

Top executives continue to file out of Stamps.com as the company's chairman and chief executive resigned. John Payne's departure comes three days after Stamps.com's president, chief financial officer and comptroller stepped down. Marvin Runyon, the former U.S. postmaster general, has taken over for Payne, who has been with the online postage company since 1998.

Microsoft in court
An appeals court split the difference between Microsoft and its government opponents in setting a schedule for the company's antitrust case. That means Microsoft has only until Nov. 27 to file its primary brief for its appeal. The government's main brief is due by Jan. 12, with Microsoft delivering a reply document by Jan. 29. Final briefs are due Feb. 9, with oral arguments scheduled for Feb. 26 and 27. Antitrust experts warned not to read too much into the scheduling order.

The software giant may have lost its antitrust trial, but legal experts predict an aggressive appeal could undercut much of the government's victory. Appearing for the first time in what it considers to be a favorable venue, Microsoft is expected to portray the trial as a process out of control, before a biased judge and rife with procedural mistakes. If Microsoft can successfully challenge enough of the case, it could nullify the government's victory.

Separately, legal experts say the federal judge who ruled that Microsoft violated U.S. antitrust law could be removed from the case in the likely event an appellate panel returns portions of the case to his court. The issue isn't so much the way U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson handled the trial or any obvious bias on his part, but is based on the fact that he made repeated statements about the case to the media and other audiences following its close.

Bruised apples
Faced with lower-than-anticipated sales, Apple plans to offer a $300 rebate to consumers who buy a PowerMac G4 Cube along with an Apple monitor. Apple is also going to offer $200 rebates on its PowerBook line of notebook computers. The apparent move comes less than two weeks after Apple warned that revenue in the quarter ended Sept. 30 would be "substantially below expectations" because of weak September sales.

Microsoft officially took the wraps off Mac Office 2001, but it is actually the next version that will have the greater effect on Apple. That's because only the next version will fully support Mac OS X, Apple's new operating system scheduled to ship early next year. Without a Mac OS X version of Office, which is the major productivity suite for the Mac, Apple could face problems moving customers to its new operating system.

Motorola said it would boost its G4 processor to 1 GHz and beyond, although it is unclear when or if Apple will adopt the faster chips. With the upcoming "Apollo" processor, Motorola's G4 processor family will be able to join the 1-GHz club. The new processor could prove to be a boon for Apple, the only major PC maker to use G4 chips.

Also of note
The European Commission granted approval for the world's largest corporate merger, between Internet heavyweight America Online and media giant Time Warner, setting the stage for U.S. regulators to rule on the deal...Because of a number of marketing and technical issues, the more technologically advanced Pentium 4 will continue to be overshadowed by the Pentium III, at least in terms of revenue and units produced, for some time...The Federal Communications Commission is taking baby steps toward regulating high-speed Internet services, even as a bevy of broadband-related bills have failed to pass this year's Congress...S3 announced its first handheld computer, unveiling a device based on Psion's Revo Plus software and hardware design.