Insurance is usually worthless, a bet the house almost always wins.
Fire, flood, poor health, death -- each insurance bill you pay is a wager that these things will come, or come more quickly, than is really likely. And the insurance that investors took out Friday when they squared positions ahead of a weekend of uncertainty in Kosovo? Apparently worthless as well.
Which is another way of saying it looks like stocks will move higher this morning. Bombs fell for a fourth and fifth day. An American plane was shot down, its pilot rescued.
was repeatedly defiantly defiant. Nothing that took the conflict outside the box Wall Street imagined it in.
Absent that and a bid comes into the U.S. market. Add some merger news and things look even better. With the U.K.'s
reportedly in talks with
, stocks are set to run higher.
"It looks strong," said Dan Mathisson, head stock trader at
D.E. Shaw Securities
. "We have the Atlantic Richfield merger -- that should get the energy stocks going. The bond market is relatively stable and we have some of the Internet stocks popping."
Besides the news that
is moving into the Internet auction market, there were positive comments on the sector from money manager David Alger in
this weekend, and
The New York Times
carried a softball story on Silicon Alley companies this morning.
At 9 a.m. EST, the
futures were up 4.2, better than 7 above fair value and indicating a hop at the open. The 30-year Treasury was relatively flat, down 5/32 to 94 27/32, putting the yield at 5.61%.
With the end of the fiscal year just three days away, Japanese stocks traded mixed and thin. The
fell 8.15 to 16,008.84, though breadth was positive.
Hong Kong investors nailed down gains in light trading, with many setting up for the Easter holidays. The
dropped 114.84 to 10,688.47.
Europe's major bourses were all stronger. In Frankfurt, the
was up 60.36, or 1.3%, to 4835.53. In Paris, the
was up 9.85 to 4125.56. And in London, the
was up 83.7, or 1.4%, to 6222.9.
Monday's Wake-Up Watchlist
- BP Amoco and Arco confirmed they are in discussions "concerning a possible combination transaction." According to published reports, BP Amoco, the third-largest oil company in the world, will buy Arco in a stock deal valued at about $25 billion.
Glaxo Wellcome (GLX) is looking for merger partners after preliminary discussions with
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) - Get Report were called off, the
Financial Times reported. Glaxo has no plans to reopen talks with Bristol-Myers, but the U.K. company has put a merger firmly on its agenda, according to one insider, the newspaper reported.
In other news (earnings estimates are from
Amazon.com said it plans to launch an online auction service.
Meanwhile, online auctioneer
eBay (EBAY) - Get Report and
Warner Bros. Online, a unit of
Time Warner (TWX) , set a three-year strategic alliance under which eBay will be integrated throughout the Warner Bros. Online entertainment sites.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter upgraded
Baker Hughes (BHI) and
Halliburton (HAL) - Get Report to strong buy from outperform.
Boeing (BA) - Get Report said it has implemented "simpler ways of configuring and producing commercial airplanes" in an effort to cut costs and boost efficiency.
Dow Jones Industrial Average component
Eastman Kodak (EK) forecast a first-quarter earnings shortfall. The company expects to report fully adjusted earnings in the first quarter in a range between 73 cents a share to 80 cents, which would be below the 11-analyst consensus estimate of 82 cents; second-quarter earnings from $1.50 to $1.59, which would be above the 10-analyst estimate of $1.45; and full-year earnings ranging between $4.81 to $5.24. The 13-analyst consensus has the company earning $4.98 for the full year.
Morgan Stanley upgraded
Fannie Mae (FNM) and
Freddie Mac (FRE) to strong buy from outperform.
GE Capital, a unit of
General Electric (GE) - Get Report, is in talks to buy up to 90% of Indonesia's
Bank Bali, according to a report on
Lucent (LU) will supply an expected $1 billion in equipment and services to its former parent
AT&T (T) - Get Report under a four-year pact.
Renault bought a 37% stake in troubled
Nissan (NSANY) of Japan for $5.4 billion. Renault also took a 23% stake in
Nissan Diesel Motor, Nissan's truck-making affiliate.
Walgreen (WAG) posted second-quarter earnings of 20 cents a share, in line with the 15-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 17 cents.
Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday endorsed continued use of
Warner-Lambert's (WLA) controversial diabetes drug
TheStreet.com wrote about the situation this