TheStreet.com's DAILY BULLETIN
December 27, 1999
Market Data as of Close, 12/24/99:
o Dow Jones Industrial Average: 11,405.76 unchanged 0.00, 0.00%
o Nasdaq Composite Index: 3,969.44 up 32.14, 0.82%
o S&P 500: 1,458.34 unchanged 0.00, 0.00%
o TSC Internet: 1,128.52 down 19.58, -1.71%
o Russell 2000: 482.43 unchanged 0.00, 0.00%
o 30-Year Treasury: 95 08/32 unchanged , yield 6.477%
In Today's Bulletin:
o Editor's Letter: The Coming Week on TSC
o Market Update: Weekend Report: Einstein Named Time's 'Man of the Century'
o The Coming Week in Europe: Europeans Opt for Holidays Over Workdays
o The Coming Week in Asia: Japanese Gather at Shrines to Pray for Another Good Year
Also on TheStreet.com:
Wrong! Rear Echelon Revelations: State of the Web: Wal-Mart's Last Stand Against the Dot-Coms
Cramer sketches out a plan for the bricks-and-mortar retailer to defend its Christmas sales.
This Week in IPOs: Four Big Trends to Watch in 2000
Before you pop the champagne, think about what these trends might mean for next year's IPO market.
IPOs: January IPO Slate Looks Heavier Than Usual
No infrastructure plays yet, but plenty of big names and dot-com plans.
Jim Griffin: With Indices at New Highs, 'Tis the Season to Be Jolly, Indeed
And while the ultimate provider of this feast is the Fed, the group may be about to tighten its policy belt.
Editor's Letter: The Coming Week on
12/26/99 6:28 PM ET
One final week. Five more sessions and we hit the finish line, the final close for the year, the century and the millennium. And if the last few weeks are any indication, even these between-the-holidays sessions will bring some surprises.
Let's face it, this has been an unbelievable year. The
has soared, tech stocks are on fire and the sages can't quite fathom what's happening. It's either an investor revolution or a dream that could go horribly wrong -- or, perhaps, a combination of both. Whatever the case, more people than ever are fixated on the stock market, and more people than ever are fixated on year-end returns. As we've done throughout this month, we'll track the leading funds -- like the more than 80 that have turned in 100% gains this year. And we'll track the leading stocks, such as
. Stocks like these, only recently in the spotlight, have become overnight sensations.
This final week of trading is a time replete with lists, tables, predictions, forecasts and everything in between. The usual array of polls and surveys is accentuated by the closing of the century and the millennium. But that's not all that's different this year. We're also rolling up to the day of reckoning for the so-called Y2K computer bug.
What will happen? The nation is mostly calm -- at least the folks in the investing world are. Stocks have soared as more and more investors have decided that the Y2K bug thing won't be a big problem. Well, this week we'll find out. Starting in Asia (and early on Dec. 31 here in the U.S.), we'll find out if subway systems and electricity grids go haywire or simply do just fine. We'll be there, covering what happens as the clock moves around the globe. By the time the year 2000 reaches New York, we'll have a pretty good handle on what to expect. Should be a most interesting day.
Finally, in this time of holiday cheer, we at
wish all of you and yours the very best of the season. It's a great time of year -- go soak it all in.
L'Etoile du Nord
Market Update: Weekend Report: Einstein Named
'Man of the Century'
David A. Gaffen
12/26/99 6:11 PM ET
The day after Christmas.
Also known as "Gloat Day," to appropriate a phrase from the soon-to-be-retired
would certainly be doing some gloating today, if he were still alive. The scientist was named
"Man of the Century," joining (as
puts it, rather cheekily) such past luminaries of this millennium as
William the Conqueror
As of press time, there was a proposal to send in a negotiating team to speak with the hijackers of the
jet that was taken on Christmas Eve and has been held captive the entire weekend. The plane is currently in Afghanistan, where the hijackers are holding about 150 hostages, demanding that India release a jailed Islamic leader. The hijackers have released one passenger in need of medical attention, according to published reports.
Supreme Beef Processors
voluntarily recalled 180,000 pounds of ground beef on Saturday because of possible contamination with E. coli bacteria. The company recalled the beef after government tests found a sample contaminated by the bacteria. The ground beef was produced on Dec. 20 and distributed in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida and New Mexico, the company said.
, a U.K.-based bank with two-thirds of its assets in Asia, plans to make a $400 million bid for Taiwan's
banking group, according to London's
. The bank wants to buy a 75% stake in ChinFon, with an option to increase that to 90%, the newspaper reported Sunday.
, which makes pumps, valves and seals for refineries and pipelines, announced Friday it would cut 9% of its work force and take a fourth-quarter charge in a company restructuring. The stock closed at 16 1/16 Thursday.
In the Papers
The New York Times
spreads good cheer by kicking the bears (guys like Leon Levy and James Grant) in the head in its Sunday Business section. Some day, they're going to be right.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's
Barton Biggs, who's been bearish only for the last 18 months or so, says the U.S. stock market will be one of the worst in the next three or four years. In a separate article,
Abby Joseph Cohen says she's no longer a raging bull because the U.S. market is fairly valued and has been since March.
tries its hand at the "
story, which graces the cover of this week's edition, reporting that
stock is off 23% in 1999, primed to achieve it's second-worst annual performance since 1965. Buffett's not a technology freak, so he's missed some opportunities for big gains, while his pet sector, insurance, has been hemorrhaging this year.
The Coming Week in Europe: Europeans Opt for Holidays Over Workdays
12/25/99 12:35 AM ET
BERLIN -- On a continent that normally takes the month of August off, it comes as little surprise that the fillip of business days falling between Christmas and New Year's won't be a raging vortex of trading excitement.
Even in the midst of this year's breakneck markets -- the
is up 30%, the
43% and the
14.4% -- traders on this side of the Atlantic will be taking time off. The markets might be rising, but European sensibilities demand that holidays come first.
The U.K. and Ireland begin the week with a pair of holidays. Because Christmas and Boxing Day, the British holiday that falls on the 26th, land on the weekend this year, the required days of rest have been relocated to Monday and Tuesday. Just for good measure, Ireland will take the Wednesday off, too. Even if a little activity does get generated later in the week, it will be short lived. Starting on Thursday, some markets will close for half the day to make final Y2K preparations. On Friday, in the run-up to triple-zero New Year's festivities, almost everything will be shut. Might as well start those 2000 celebrations as soon as you wake.
Sure, a smattering of French inflation and jobs data will be released. But it's all pretty timid stuff compared to the millennium madness.
Slightly more enticing, perhaps, is the continuing
takeover saga. Last week, Vodafone formally launched a $132 billion takeover attempt of the German group.
Mannesmann has "put forward a strong case
for its continued independence, but the outcome of the bid remains finely balanced," says Dutch investment bank
, which rates both companies a buy.
will sell its share of the
joint venture to partners
may also involve the few weary souls who trudge into the office. The sale could lead to a new wrangle between the French and Germans, who have wrestled over Global One in the past.
But don't count on a resolution until next year. Even telecommunications CEOs want their holidays.
The Coming Week in Asia: Japanese Gather at Shrines to Pray for Another Good Year
12/25/99 12:40 AM ET
TOKYO -- Over the holidays, shopping malls may be the busiest places in the U.S., thronging with folks making Christmas returns and taking advantage of the after-Christmas sales. In Japan, there will be plenty of holiday-related activity as well, but rather than piling into shopping centers, the crowds will be gathering at the shrines dotting the archipelago.
Even though they don't consider themselves a religious people, the Japanese have a keen sense of propriety and tradition. Like their parents and grandparents before them, millions of Japanese will begin making trips to the local shrine, praying that 2000 will be at least as good as 1999. The mini-pilgrimages reach their crescendo on New Year's eve, when the flood of revelers is so great that
, the nation's quasi-governmental television authority, broadcasts the gatherings. It's usually one of the highest-rated shows over the holiday season.
No doubt the fund managers and traders headed to the shrines over the next couple of weeks will pray for another strong year for the financial markets. After a decade in the dumps, the benchmark
average has finally sprung to life. Fund managers and traders will be asking the god or gods of their choice for another year like 1999, in which the Nikkei has risen 31% and OTC shares have surged to 200.
Japan's government, facing a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 100%, would like that, as well. While there is little doubt that politicians and bureaucrats will make their way to the shrines over the holidays, they will also leave little to chance. On Friday, at the request of Finance Minister
Bank of Japan
intervened in the foreign exchange market for the 12th time since mid-June, guiding the yen briefly to 103.10 yen from 101.90 yen. By weakening the currency, the MOF hopes to make it cheaper for Americans and Europeans to buy Japanese products. If it costs a little less, maybe American consumers will go for a
Civic rather than some Yankee make.
On the same day, Prime Minister
and fellow Cabinet members added their support, approving a record 85 trillion-yen draft ($825 billion) budget for fiscal 2000. All that money, Obuchi hopes, will kick the economy into a self-sustaining recovery, something that has eluded Japan for nearly 10 years.
The proposed spending, up 3.8% from last fiscal year, also mandates 32.6 trillion yen worth of new government debt to be issued. Bond traders, who fear a sudden rise in interest rates due to the flood of new supply, will look to the
Economic Planning Agency
for guidance on Monday, when it releases its economic outlook for 2000. The EPA will likely be optimistic for the year ahead, especially because of the money that will flow out of the budget and into the private sector; it will also caution the bulls about low consumer spending, however.
Investors hungry for Asian initial public offerings may want to look to China, where more than 20 state companies are planning to list on the
Stock Exchange of Hong Kong
China National Petroleum Corporation
, the nation's largest oil company, has confirmed that it has received an "approval in principle" from the exchange for a $7 billion IPO, which will be the largest public offering by a Chinese entity if completed. CNPC is also awaiting approval from the
, though an offering in the U.S. will likely be more difficult. The firm has business ties to Sudan, against which the U.S. enforces sanctions due to allegations of state-run terrorism and human rights abuses.
CNPC officials may want to consider popping into a Japanese shrine and asking the gods for help. It certainly couldn't hurt.
Copyright 1999, TheStreet.com