It looks like stocks are headed toward a rest day this morning.
For the past week, the market has been beefing up through a standard plan of alternating workouts: up huge one session, modest consolidation the next. And stocks seem to be sticking to the program today. At 9:05 a.m. EST, the
futures were down 2.3, about 3 points below fair value, indicating some modest selling at the open.
"I'm not seeing much out there," said Doug Myers, vice president of equity trading at
in Atlanta. "Outside of some stock-specific news, like
, right now there's not much going on."
Vodafone AirTouch said today that it is offering 240 euros ($247.23) per share for German telecom firm
. The offer, which totals 124 billion euros, or about $128 billion, could lead to the largest takeover ever, if accepted.
Although Wall Street's muscles don't look especially taut this morning, momentum is back in a big way, and yesterday's session had major benchmarks violating key thresholds all over the place: The
Nasdaq Composite Index
S&P MidCap 400
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index all made new all-time highs. The
Dow Jones Industrial Average
poked back above 11,000. And the
hit 3,000, that magical level that many investors were amazed to see the Comp break through two weeks ago.
Volume has been raging lately and should be strong again as investors move to exercise stock and stock-index options expiring today.
The bonds were giving up early modest gains lately, with the 30-year Treasury flat at to 99 13/32, putting its yield at 6.168%.
No major data are forthcoming. Crude-oil prices, whose renewed strength has been instilling some inflation fears in the bond market lately, were rising again this morning. December crude futures were trading at $26.30 a barrel, 50 cents above yesterday's close in New York.
Oil's uptrend hasn't yet put much of a dent in equities. "A few years back," Myers said, "oil and the market were definitely engaged in an inverse relationship. That doesn't seem to be the case now. The market is handling $25-a-barrel oil prices."
With sentiment boosted by yesterday's strength on Wall Street, Asian markets moved higher overnight.
In Hong Kong, the
boomed above the 15,000 level, incited by heavy buying in index constituent
, which investors were bidding up on account of its 10.2% stake in Mannesmann. The Hang Seng added 351.36, or 2.4%, to 15,073.10.
As expected, the
Hong Kong Association of Banks
voted to leave deposit rates unchanged at 3.75%. Though interest rates in Hong Kong track the trend of U.S. rates, the HKAB does not always match each move by the
In Tokyo, gains were more modest, but enough to send the
to a two-year high. The index advanced 38.03, or 0.2%, to 18,570.84.
Bank of Japan's
outright purchases of government notes didn't have any noticeable effect on the currency market, though it did help stanch the weeklong selling in Japanese government bonds, or JGBs. The dollar ranged between the 106.2-yen and 105.8-yen levels through the Tokyo session, and was lately trading at 106.35 yen.
Friday's Wake-Up Watchlist
In a $6 billion deal,
, a unit of
, extended its pact for broadcast rights to the
National Collegiate Athletic Association's
Division I men's college basketball tournament and other selected championship events. The extended deal will begin in 2003 after the conclusion of its existing eight-year pact with the NCAA and run until 2014. CBS Sports has been the exclusive broadcaster of the men's basketball championship since 1982. The deal between CBS and the NCAA, which CBS called "the most comprehensive sports agreement in history," provides CBS with the television rights, including over-the-air broadcasting, cable television, satellite, digital and home video. CBS also obtains the rights for all content relating to these events on the Internet.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
announced it plans to sell its mortgage servicing division to
said it will raise $37.2 billion in the syndicated loan market to fund its sweetened $128.5 billion offer for
, making for the largest hostile takeover bid in history. According to bankers, the loan would set a record as the biggest ever, topping
$30 billion loan in April.
Separately, according to
, Vodafone CEO Chris Gent said during a news conference that the company has contacted the
regarding its bid for Mannesmann and hopes to receive the EU's stamp of approval after the discussions.
is selling its 64% interest in
to Paul Allen's
for $204.8 million. Allen is a co-founder of
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
(Earnings estimates are from
First Call/Thomson Financial
issued a downward revision for sales and revenues for the fourth quarter. Caterpillar expects sales, revenue and profit to be slightly above the third quarter's. The company earned 61 cents a share in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter of 1998, it earned 83 cents a share. Analysts are calling for Caterpillar to earn 97 cents in the fourth quarter.
executives, in a presentation before the company's earnings release yesterday, informed employees that Newbridge is open to takeover offers, according to a source close to the firm. The company reviewed its plans for a 10% workforce reduction, which includes slicing 720 jobs and said it has not dismissed the option of a possible sale, although it has no current suitors. Regarding the company's earnings, Newbridge posted earnings of 8 cents a share, missing the 10-analyst estimate by a penny and down from the year-ago 18-cent profit.
joint newsroom covered the Newbridge news in a
story last night.
posted fourth-quarter earnings of 55 cents a share, beating the six-analyst estimate by a penny and up from the year-ago 48 cents.
Offerings and stock actions
Credit Suisse First Boston
5.5 million-share IPO yesterday above-range at $24 a share.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
2.75 million-share public offering at $32 a share. ImClone closed yesterday at 34 1/2.
Warburg Dillon Read
initiated coverage of
with a buy rating and a price target of 88.
rolled out coverage of
with a neutral rating.
Warburg initiated coverage of
with buy ratings.
Warburg initiated coverage of
with buy ratings.
Warburg rolled out coverage of
with a buy rating and set a price target of 35 on the stock.
CSFB analyst Wendell Laidley upgraded shares of
to strong buy from buy.
raised its intermediate-term rating on the stock to buy from accumulate.
Morgan Stanley upped its rating on
to outperform from strong buy.
and government lawyers convened briefly with Judge Thomas Jackson, the first meeting since he ruled the company a monopoly,
The Wall Street Journal
announced after yesterday's close that the
Securities and Exchange Commission
is launching a formal probe into the financially stressed drugstore chain, while revealing that its former auditors,
, resigned, saying they could no longer depend on Rite Aid management's representations.
Rite Aid said it has filed a report of unscheduled material events with the SEC called a Form 8-K, which explains the reasons behind KPMG's resignation. On Monday, Rite Aid said that KPMG was expected to examine its previous statements relating to its restated earnings, however KPMG backed out, saying it was unavailable. Earlier this month, Rite Aid cautioned investors to discount previously stated profit and cash flow reports and revised its earlier results.
For more on
Rite Aid's stock troubles, check out
joint newsroom's coverage for the latest news.
Investors are scurrying for the few wireless companies they think are takeover candidates for the big telecommunications companies, the Heard on the Street column in the
reports. Listed as among the most likely acquisition cell-phone targets in the column:
and smaller companies such as
In the Inside Wall Street column in
, written by Gene Marcial,
is named as a possible takeover target, with Sven Monberg, a special-situations analyst at
in New York, stating he thinks the company will be acquired this year, most likely by
. The column quotes Leslie Stonestreet, an analyst at
Banc of America Securities
as saying she "wouldn't be surprised if Viatel becomes a target."
are also mentioned as possible takeover candidates in the column.