Ahead of Long Weekend, Stocks Set to Move Higher

Author:
Publish date:

Sunny and breezy. High, 71 F.

That's the New York weather forecast, and it goes a long way toward explaining why the subways are empty and the traffic isn't clogged. Plenty of people on Wall Street are beginning the Memorial Day weekend early. With volume low, stocks could be in for another day of choppy trading.

To begin with, at least, the stock market looks good. At about 9 a.m. EDT the

S&P 500

futures were up 1.80, indicating a positive open.

"Up 25 points if it had to open right now," said Bob Basel, director of listed trading at

Salomon Smith Barney

. "Then it's going to drift. Everyone that's in today -- and it's three-quarter staffed on Wall Street today -- is going to do what they have to do on the open. From 12 on it's going to be listless trading."

Despite the up tone of the market, there is a spoiler out there.

AMG Data Services

reports a distressing drop in equity inflows for the week ended May 20. Only $472 million flowed into equity funds, down sharply from the previous week's $4.21 billion and the four-week moving average of $3.46 billion. This has been a liquidity-driven market. If the latest AMG numbers are anything more than an aberration, things could get tougher for the bull.

The Treasury market, which closes at 2 p.m. today, was also trading well, helped by a firmer dollar and a natural rebound from yesterday's selloff. The long bond was up 6/32 at 102 25/32, dropping the yield to 5.92%.

Japanese stocks declined slightly in light trading. There is some concern that the

Bank of Japan

may do a little dollar selling on Monday, when the U.S. will be closed for Memorial Day and most players will stay out of the market. Counterweighting that, the minutes of the bank's April meeting showed that some thought is being given to lowering interest rates. Japan's current discount rate is already a low 0.5%. The

Nikkei

slipped 43.60 to close at 15,801.65.

The rally that Indonesian

President Suharto's

resignation helped spark in Hong Kong yesterday ended abruptly as investors fretted over whether

B.J. Habibie

-- Suharto's picked successor -- will remain in power (and small wonder, if you look at the panegyric Habibie has on his

Web site

). Asian investors were also squaring positions ahead of the long weekend in the U.S. The

Hang Seng

fell 68.99 to 9601.46. Most Southeast Asian bourses saw similar declines.

Frankfurt's stock market was closed yesterday for Ascension Day, and there was nary an investor who didn't choose to make it into a four-day weekend. Stocks moved higher on the back of the firm dollar in thin trade. The

Dax

closed at 5564.21, up 53.23.

U.K. stocks are moving higher after revised first-quarter

gross domestic product

figures showed a slim 0.5% increase. That has helped renew hopes that the

Bank of England

will lower rates. The

FTSE

was up 13.8 to 5949.4.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

reportedly will cut most of its ties to

Netscape

(NSCP)

. Yahoo! will stop producing the

Netscape Guide by Yahoo!

, and will stop being a "premier provider" on Netscape's search page.

Business Week

, which is famously inaccurate in its merger and acquisition predictions (not that stocks don't move on them), says that

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

is mulling buying

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

. In preopening trade, the bid on Amgen was 63 1/4, up 1 9/16.