The SEC is pushing for stiffer insider-trading penalties against Wall Street professionals following the recent reemergence of such cases. The agency is trying to send a message to young professionals who weren't in the securities industry a decade ago for the agency's high-profile cases against financiers such as Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky, SEC enforcement director Richard H. Walker said. The commission has filed insider-trading charges against 10 Wall Street analysts, compliance officers and investment bankers since 1995. No such cases were filed in the five previous years.

Bell Atlantic says a door left open at an AT&T switching station caused floodwaters from Tropical Storm Floyd to knock out telephone service to more than a million people. A copy of the report, submitted by Bell Atlantic to the FCC on Oct. 15, was obtained by the Record of Hackensack, N.J., which carried a story on it yesterday. AT&T spokesman Dave Johnson said the report "does not agree with the facts as we see them." He said water was rushing in from many sources, including plumbing.

INTERNATIONALMannesmann, Germany's biggest mobile phone company, said it agreed to buy United Kingdom cellular operator Orange for $33 billion in stock and cash, gaining a base in Europe's third-largest phone market. The German company said it will pay a 21.6 percent premium to the U.K. company's closing share price on Monday, before the takeover talks were announced. Hutchison Whampoa of Hong Kong, Orange's biggest shareholder with a 44.8 percent stake, will become Mannesmann's largest shareholder with 10.2 percent of the combined companies.

Japan will take the United States to the World Trade Organization over its rulings against imports of Japanese steel, Japan's trade minister said. Washington's decision to limit imports of hot-rolled steel products from Japan goes against WTO trade regulations, said Takashi Fukaya, the minister of international trade and industry.

EARNINGSBell Atlantic reported third-quarter net income of $1.17 billion, compared with a loss of $8 million in the year-ago quarter after charges totaling about $1.1 billion for a retirement program, merger costs and international investments. Profit from operations rose 10 percent, to $1.2 billion.

BellSouth said third-quarter profit rose 19 percent, to $972 million, on fast growth in its wireless operations.

Chase Manhattan earned $1.19 billion in the third quarter, a gain of more than 40 percent, including one-time items, as trading and investment banking rebounded after last year's global market turmoil.

DuPont said third-quarter operating earnings rose more than 10 percent, to $625 million, as strong sales helped it overcome low profit margins. The company also had a gain of $7.3 billion related to the spinoff of Conoco in August.

Sales of the antidepressant Prozac fell sharply in the third quarter, but Eli Lilly still had enough sales from other drugs to post a 15 percent increase in operating earnings, to $679.7 million, the company reported.

Fleet Boston, the New England banking giant just formed by the merger of Fleet Financial Group and BankBoston, said net income grew 40 percent, to $711 million, in the third quarter. Numbers from both periods were restated to reflect the merger of Fleet Financial and BankBoston, it said.

Gateway, the second-largest direct seller of personal computers, said third-quarter earnings rose 40 percent, to $113.2 million, as it sold more PCs, boosted by the back-to-school season.

Nabisco Holdings, in its first full quarter since its split from R.J. Reynolds, posted a 37 percent rise in operating profit, to $81 million, as its U.S. foods and biscuit unit continues its rebound.

Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank reported a 14 percent jump in third-quarter profit, to $320 million, including a branch sale gain.

Republic New York, which plans to merge with British bank HSBC Holdings, earned $126.5 million in the third quarter, compared with a $92.7 million loss in the year-ago quarter when it absorbed $190.7 million in Russia-related losses.

Sprint said third-quarter profit fell 13 percent, to $359 million, due to losses on its international joint venture and data network.

Times Mirror's third-quarter profit fell to $57.1 million from last year's $1.08 billion, which reflected charges and a gain on disposal of discontinued operations. Profit from continuing operations rose 2 1/2 percent, to $56.9 million.

LOCAL BUSINESSTemplate Software of Dulles agreed to be acquired by Level 8 Systems of Cary, N.C., for $49 million in cash and stock. Template, which employs 180 people in the Washington area, develops software to help businesses integrate their software applications and information systems. Template's offices in Virginia will remain open.

Herndon-based Columbia Energy Group and Metromedia Energy, whose principal investors are the partners in Metromedia, said they plan to form a joint venture that will sell a broad portfolio of retail energy and related services, focusing initially in the Northeast. The new venture will be called Columbia Metromedia


Microsoft filed suit seeking unspecified damages against three companies in Virginia and two in West Virginia, accusing them of selling pirated versions of popular software. The Virginia companies being sued by Microsoft are Affinity Computer Technology, Herndon; NCC Computer Systems, Springfield and Compu-Link, Virginia Beach. In West Virginia they are Dynamic Solutions in Berkeley Springs and Fanelli Boys in Parkersburg. John Bailey, president of Affinity Computer Technology, said he was not aware that the Windows 95 and Office 97 Professional Edition were allegedly fraudulent, and disputed Microsoft's claim that his company had been warned.