Nortel Networks, North America's second-largest make of phone equipment, agreed to buy Qtera for as much as $3.25 billion in stock. Qtera, a closely held Boca Raton, Fla., company with no sales, has developed a product that allows phone and data traffic to be sent on fiber-optic networks over longer distances at lower cost. Brampton, Ontario-based Nortel said the final price will depend on Qtera meeting sales and profit targets.

Microsoft announced the release of the finished code for Windows 2000, the latest operating system in the Windows family, a year later than originally planned. Code was being delivered to manufacturing plants to begin duplicating disks, building boxes and delivering the product, designed for high-powered computers and networks for businesses. Retail customers will be able to purchase Windows 2000-based products on Feb. 17. Microsoft shares rose $9.75, to $108.43 3/4, on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Boeing revealed orders for $11.6 billion in new jetliners, including 163 planes previously ordered but not disclosed at customers' request. Boeing executives said that to reflect industry practice, it would now disclose all orders, including those that customers did not want revealed for strategic reasons. Boeing, however, would not give details on such orders, including customer names, aircraft models or prices paid. The company did announce that it had received a $2.6 billion order from GE Capital Aviation Services for 20 new widebody jetliners.

U.S. factories increased production in November, boosting the plant-use rate to its highest level in a year to meet brisk demand at home and abroad, the Federal Reserve reported. Industrial output climbed 0.3 percent, and the nation's mines, factories and utilities ran at 81 percent of capacity last month, matching October's rate, which was revised upward from the previously reported 80.7 percent.

Two Los Angeles men have been arrested in an Internet stock scheme. The U.S. attorney's office in said Arash Azizi-Golshani and Hootan Melamed engaged in a classic "pump and dump" scheme in which they boosted the prices of cheap stocks by spreading merger rumors in financial chat rooms and then sold them, earning some $370,000. The men allegedly created more than 50 fake accounts online (including "flowerpwr4," "bobo666" and "heparin04") using computers at the University of California at Los Angeles biomedical library. The Securities and Exchange Commission has also filed a civil case against the pair.

Women now occupy one out of every 10 seats on the boards of the nation's largest companies, according to an annual survey by Catalyst, a group devoted to advancing the role of women in business. But the survey found that there are 271 companies out of the biggest 1,000 with no women directors at all.

The Federal Communications Commission formally asked MCI WorldCom and Sprint to amend their merger application and provide information about their respective Internet "backbones," the networks that carry computer traffic. The companies have acknowledged they will likely be required to sell off some of their backbone holdings to gain approval by the FCC and the Justice Department. In a letter to the companies, FCC General Counsel Christopher Wright said the companies' application "does not provide any information," on their Internet backbone holdings.

Reliable Software Technologies warned that its researchers have found a potentially serious security flaw in the e-mail system used by Netscape's World Wide Web browser. Two engineers at the company found that the mathematical algorithm Netscape Mail uses to scramble users' passwords would take just eight hours to duplicate. Netscape officials said they were concerned but had no plans to change the algorithm, which they said was designed for computer experts' access in case someone forgot a password.

Fannie Mae, in its year-end outlook, predicted that U.S. home sales will likely fall about 7.5 percent in 2000 from this year's record as economic growth slows and interest rates rise in the first half of the year. The housing market is on a track for a fourth consecutive record year in 1999, with total new and existing home sales expected to top 6.11 million units.

Time Warner, the world's largest media company, said it's creating a $500 million fund to invest in digital media, giving it access to technology in such areas as electronic commerce and interactive television. The company will use the fund to invest an average of $5 million to $20 million for non-controlling equity stakes. Both smaller and larger investments may be made, Time Warner said.

The FCC proposed to fine a California travel agency $85,500 for illegally faxing advertisements to consumers. The FCC's first such enforcement action involves Camarillo-based Get-Aways, which the FCC had warned in July, citing a 1991 law prohibiting such unsolicited advertisements. In the past year the FCC, which is stepping up enforcement efforts, has received about 1,200 letters from consumers related to unsolicited faxes.

Dun & Bradstreet said it will go ahead with a plan to spin off its Moody's Investors Service bond-rating unit in an attempt to boost value for holders of its flagging shares. The company did not give details, but said it has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to develop a structure for the transaction.

EARNINGS

CMGI, an Internet venture fund, posted a fiscal first-quarter loss as expenses climbed almost sevenfold and said it would split its shares 2 for 1. CMGI lost $117.4 million in the quarter ended Oct. 31, compared with a profit of $38.3 million in the year-ago period.

General Mills' fiscal second-quarter profit rose 35 percent, to $193.7 million from $143.6 million a year ago, on strong cereal sales. The company took a $32.3 million restructuring charge in the year-ago quarter.