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Monday, 18 May, 1998, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
Microsoft shares slump as court action looms
Shares in Microsoft, the world's biggest software company, have dropped $3.25 in early trading following the news that the US Justice Department and some 20 states are suing the company for anti-trust violations.

Since the threat of legal action emerged last month, the shares, which at one time had touched $100 per share, have dropped back to the value of just over $86 at midday in New York.

At this price the company is still worth over $200 billion, dwarfing its software rivals.

The court action against Microsoft centres around whether the company can bundle its browser used to explore the Internet in its new Windows 98 software package. The government says this discriminates against the main rival browser, the Netscape Navigator, produced by Netscape Communications Corporation.

Netscape's shares were mixed in early trading on the NASDAQ stock market. By midday local time they remained unchanged at $27 and 15/16 after early gains.

Since April the shares have recovered strongly from a low of under $17 per share.

Netscape has said it wants to re-invent itself as a content provider on the Internet. Last month it did a deal with one of the main search engines to provide information at its Website.

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