Shares of MP3.com, a 16-month-old money-losing Internet music company, rose $35.31 1/4, to $63.31 1/4, on MP3's first day of trading as investors bet it will revolutionize music distribution. MP3.com allows people to download CD-quality music, often for free, from a library of 100,000 songs by more than 18,000 artists. San Diego-based MP3.com closed with a market value of $4 billion.

Amazon.com, the Internet's largest retailer, said its second-quarter loss widened because of increased spending to promote and expand its Web site, while revenue almost doubled. Its loss grew to $138.0 million, from $22.6 million a year earlier. Revenue rose to $314.4 million from $116 million. The company also said it will split its stock 2 for 1.

New-home starts fell in June to the lowest level in more than a year as shortages of workers and building materials such as wallboard and insulation delayed construction. Housing starts fell 5.6 percent last month -- the fourth decline in the last five months -- after rising by the same percentage in May, the Commerce Department said.

Cincinnati Bell, which provides local phone service in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, said it will buy IXC Communications for $3.1 billion in stock and assumed debt to get a nationwide long-distance and Internet network. Oak Hill Capital Partners, an investment group lead by Robert Bass, will also buy $400 million of Cincinnati Bell debt.

Consumer privacy protections should be strengthened in proposed federal legislation to revamp banking law, a top bank regulator told Congress. Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke, who regulates federally chartered banks, said consumers expect banks to keep personal information confidential, and failure to live up to that expectation could erode consumer confidence. A final vote on the bill could come as early as August.

Johnson & Johnson agreed to buy Centocor, one of the few profitable biotechnology companies, for $4.9 billion in stock. In its biggest acquisition to date, Johnson & Johnson will buy Centocor for $61 a share, 23 percent more than Tuesday's closing price of $49.50. Johnson & Johnson will gain Centocor's heart medicine ReoPro and Remicade, a treatment for the bowel disorder Crohn's disease and arthritis.

Royal Carribean Cruises Ltd. will pay fines of $18 million and plead guilty to charges it dumped oil and hazardous chemicals in the ocean and then lied to U.S. Coast Guard investigators, Attorney General Janet Reno said. The fine is the largest ever for an environmental crime case involving cruise ships, the Justice Department said. Royal Caribbean will plead guilty to 21 felony counts in an agreement that will be enforced by six federal courts across the country. Royal Carribean President Jack Williams said he was "profoundly sorry" and added that most of the dumping was the result of negligence that violated the company's own policy to protect the environment.

Hoover's shares nearly doubled in price in their first day of trading but then fell back. The business information service priced the initial public offering of 3.25 million shares of common stock at $14 a share, raising $45.5 million. Shares started trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market at $26. After reaching a high of $33, they fell back to close at $22.

United Parcel Service filed to sell a 10 percent stake in an initial public offering, the first step in a process that would end the delivery company's status as one of the world's largest private companies. The Atlanta-based firm said in a filing with the SEC that it will seek to raise as much as $100 million. This initial estimate may simply be a nominal figure, however, and the actual size of the offering could be much larger.

Global Asset Management's John Horseman, one of the top international stock fund managers of the 1990s, is retiring from the money-management business at age 40. Horseman, who will leave GAM at the end of the year, has managed the $2.3 billion GAM International Fund and the $120 million GAM Global Fund since April 1990. Jean-Philippe Cremers will take over management of Horseman's mutual funds and institutional portfolios.

Silicon Valley, the center of the Internet economy, could find its status threatened by quality-of-life concerns -- skyrocketing housing prices, a shortage of good schools, and bad traffic -- that might send workers to other technology centers, a study by the consulting firm A.T. Kearney found.

EARNINGS

Allstate said second-quarter operating income fell 1 percent, to $610 million, as competition spurred the car and home insurer to reduce prices.

AMR's net income declined 34.5 percent last quarter, to $268 million, as its American Airlines unit suffered through bad weather, air traffic delays and fare discounting, the company said. AMR had revenue of $5.01 billion in the second quarter, compared with $4.92 billion in the year-earlier period.

Avon Products, the world's largest direct seller of cosmetics, said second-quarter earnings rose 9 percent, to $121.4 million, as higher sales in the United States and Asia and cost cutting made up for declines in Europe and Latin America.

BellSouth reported that second-quarter earnings rose 20 percent, driven by robust growth in its data, wireless and international operations. Atlanta-based BellSouth earned $980 million in the quarter, including a gain from an accounting change, compared with $818 million a year earlier.

Bristol-Myers Squibb said soaring sales of prescription drugs in the United States, including its Glucophage diabetes pill and Taxol cancer treatment, helped boost second-quarter earnings 14 percent, to $952 million.

Eastman Kodak said its second-quarter profit rose 8.8 percent, to $491 million, as the result of cost cutting and higher sales. The company also said it will take a $300 million pretax charge in the third quarter to cut as many as 2,500 jobs and to close a plant outside Rochester, N.Y.

Eli Lilly & Co., the maker of the anti-depression medication Prozac, said second-quarter profit rose 17 percent, to $576.4 million, as sales of drugs for schizophrenia and diabetes increased.

EMC, the No. 1 maker of data-storage systems for large corporations, said second-quarter profit rose 52 percent, to $288.9 million.

Exxon said its second-quarter profit declined 26 percent, to $1.21 billion, because of a drop in earnings at its refining operations and depressed natural gas prices.

LSI Logic, a maker of custom semiconductors, said second-quarter earnings fell 69 percent, to $9.83 million, because of expenses related to acquisitions.

Nabisco Holdings said its operating profit decreased 9 percent in the second quarter, to $231 million, as revenue fell due to currency fluctuations and the absence of businesses sold since last year.

NCR said second-quarter earnings more than doubled as the result of strong sales in database software and retail computer devices. It said net income rose to $46 million from profit from operations of $19 million a year earlier.

Schering-Plough said second-quarter earnings rose 20 percent, to $547 million, on sales of the allergy drug Claritin and its cancer and hepatitis drug Intron A.

UAL, the parent company of United Airlines and Shuttle by United, said its second-quarter profit from operations fell 17 percent, to $349 million, because of U.S. fare sales and problems with a new computer pricing system.