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Cliffhanging takeover dramas help push Dow to highest level since October

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Corporate raiders sure know how to liven up a dull stock market. Hostile takeovers, white knights, and counteroffers brought market news to the front pages of newspapers last week. Perhaps the biggest story was Federated Department Stores Inc.'s agreement to merge with white knight R.H. Macy & Co. This stymied, at least temporarily, Canadian investor Robert Campeau's attempt to take over the country's largest department store chain.

Not to be lost in the shuffle was T. Boone Pickens's unsolicited offer last Monday of almost $2 billion for Homestake Mining Company, one of the country's largest gold producers.

Investment banker Shearson Lehman Hutton Inc. joined a British construction company in a hostile offer worth $1.33 billion for Koppers Company, a construction materials and chemical company in Pittsburgh.

In addition, the Stop & Shop Companies accepted a $1.2 billion offer from Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Company, which would take the New England grocery and retail chain private - and away from a hostile takeover bid from the Haft family of Maryland.

The action behind these stories and others helped propel the Dow Jones industrial average on Monday to 2,071.62 points, its highest level since the market crashed to 1,738.74 last October. The Dow finished the week at 2,057.86, up 34.65 points.

But the brisk level was nothing more than coincidence, says Eugene Peroni, director of technical research for Janney Montgomery Scott Inc. in Philadelphia. ``There are no special economic or monetary reasons for this now; takeover activity has been an accelerating trend for several months,'' he notes.

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