After a couple days of postprandial movement, investors are wondering if today is the day the market will definitively break from the range that's held it for nearly three months.

It looks like there will be a little more ruminative action at the outset. At 9 a.m. EST, the

S&P 500

futures were at 2, near fair value and indicating a basically flat open.

But more rallies in Asia and some news out of Europe may push stocks into the positive column. In an effort to derail the merger of

Societe Generale




Banque Nationale de Paris

has put in hostile bids for both banks. The subtext of BNP's message is clear:

We cannot compete with a larger entity. We need to be larger to compete.

And that suggests that the world's banks will continue to swallow, or try to swallow, each other up.

It does not look like Internet stocks will be spending anytime treading water this morning. First, there is a report in

The Wall Street Journal







biggest shareholder, has hired

Morgan Stanley

to seek other suitors for Lycos in an effort to derail the planned merger with

USA Networks

(USAI) - Get Report


And then there is Henry Blodget, the analyst who, when he was at


, made the famed


(AMZN) - Get Report

400 call. Recently moved to

Merrill Lynch

, today is the day he started coverage of a number of what he calls "high quality" Internet companies. Merrill's got a big sales force and a lot of clients.

The Treasury market was holding steady after yesterday's gains. The 30-year was up 3/32 to 95 31/32, putting the yield to 5.53%.

What if


(SNE) - Get Report

restructuring is just the beginning? What if Japan sees real cost-cutting, real consolidation? (As opposed to consolidation of the

Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi


variety, where the board of directors, for example, is the sum total of

Bank of Tokyo's


Bank of Mitsubishi's


This is what Tokyo's market mulled again today, and while strategists were saying they'd believe it when they see it, investors were buying. The


climbed another 383.3, or 2.5%, to close at 15,480. It has climbed 11.2% since Tuesday of last week.

Separately, the

Financial Times

reports that Japan's vice minister of finance for international affairs,

Eisuke Sakakibara

, may leave his post this summer. We'll miss seeing Sakakibara with deputy


secretary Larry Summers. As, no doubt, will they.

Hong Kong stocks hit a new three-month high as market heavyweight


continued to romp. The

Hang Seng

added 216.06, or 2.1%, to 10,749.01.

Europe's major bourses were mixed. In Frankfurt, the


was off 27.66 to 4730.8. In Paris, the


was up 5.52 to 4165.32. (BNP, SocGen and Paribas weren't trading.) And in London, the


was off 16.5 to 6221.2.

Wednesday's Wake-Up Watchlist


Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

  • Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report is quietly mapping out an appeals strategy and hasn't ruled out seeking a settlement with the government, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Lycos' largest shareholder, CMGI, hired Morgan Stanley Dean Witter to seek other suitors for Lycos in an effort to thwart the company's planned merger with USA Networks (USAI) - Get Report, the Journal reported. The Journal reported that CMGI's chairman and chief executive, David S. Wetherell, said one of the options being considered is CMGI's outright purchase of Lycos.
  • Banque Nationale de Paris has made a $37 billion bid to buy Societe Generale and Paribas. Only last month, Societe Generale and Paribas agreed to get together.
  • Reliant Energy (REI) - Get Report is buying UNA, a Dutch power company, for $2.4 billion over a maximum of seven years.
  • Henry Blodget, Internet analyst at Merrill Lynch, who until recently worked at CIBC Oppenheimer, rated America Online (AOL) near-term and long-term buy; (AMZN) - Get Report near-term accumulate and long-term buy; and Yahoo! (YHOO) near-term accumulate and long-term buy. In other news (Earnings estimates from First Call):
  • Anchor Gaming (SLOT) agreed to buy Powerhouse Technologies (PWRH) for $19.50 a share. Anchor said the deal values Powerhouse at about $280 million, consisting of $220 million of equity value and $60 million of debt. Powerhouse closed Tuesday at 14 13/16.
  • and Dell (DELL) - Get Report set a strategic agreement to offer linked Web sites and provide customized content for and Dell customers.
  • Toys 'R' Us (TOY) posted fourth-quarter operating earnings of $1.28 a share, beating the 16-analyst outlook of $1.20, but down from the year-ago $1.32.
  • True North (TNO) posted fourth-quarter earnings, excluding items, of 75 cents a share, in line with the six-analyst estimate and up from the year ago 59 cents, excluding items.
  • Vail Resorts (MTN) - Get Report posted second-quarter earnings of 47 cents a share, below the seven-analyst estimate of 51 cents and down from the year-ago 75 cents.