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Asian Markets Remain Steady, U.S. Stocks Looking Mixed

After last week's sprint, stocks still have a bit of lactic acid in their muscles this morning.

With overseas markets more-or-less lackluster, and no big M&A news in the market this morning, stocks look flat. The

S&P 500

futures, up 0.10 at 9 a.m., are indicating a neutral open.

"It's just a bit of a pause here," says one trader. "We just have to get through a bit of time, and then we'll get back to the rally." The lack of news is also contributing to the morning's trendless feel. "There's nothing really sexy out there," says the trader.

Japanese stocks ended flat in mixed trading. Property issues and small caps advanced, while global blue-chips slipped on profit taking (and the lower dollar). The


closed up 0.09 at 17,295.09.

Seoul stocks fell on word that the militant

Confederation of Korean Trade Unions

threatened to call an indefinite general strike as of Friday unless last week's agreement allowing layoffs is renegotiated, but within the context of softness in most of the Tiger markets, it wasn't so bad. Labor reaction to the austerity measures that come with the

International Monetary Fund

bailout was expected. The


fell 12.47, or 2.24%, to close at 541.77.

After spending much of the day down, Hong Kong stocks staged a late-day rally that wiped out nearly all of their losses. The

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Hang Seng

fell 13.48 to 10,859.67.

A weaker dollar provided a good excuse for profit taking in Germany, where the stocks have hit a string of record recently. The


closed down 39.79 at 4523.75.

The U.K market has spent time on both sides of the flat line in listless trading. A lower-than-expected January

retail price index

boosted sentiment somewhat, but after the recent run, London stocks are taking a bit of a break.

"The morning's economic data was actually pretty good, but with the lack of any more news on the takeover front, we're continuing to drift," says David McBain, U.K. equity strategist at

NatWest Markets




is up 7.00 at 5607.90.

Treasury traders are positive going into today's three-year auction. The long bond is up 4/32 at 102 22/32, dropping the yield to 5.93%.

Duane Reade's

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IPO is slated to start trading today. The drugstore chain priced last night at $16.50 per share. (For a look at the Duane Reade IPO, click




announced that it will buy

Le Blanc de Nicolay

, France's third-largest insurer. Details of the deal have not been disclosed.

The Wall Street Journal

reports that


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is in talks with cable companies on contributing to a joint, cable Internet venture.

LCC International


last night announced fourth-quarter earnings of 3 cents per share, well below the

First Call

consensus estimate of 24 cents per share. The company said that it was hurt badly by the Asian economic crisis.

Anglo-Dutch consumer giant



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UN ADR) is down slightly in European trading, after it reported lower-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings.