Buying Something Nice for the Holidays

Stocks were mixed overseas, but the U.S. could hold out for one more rally.
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One more rally before the holiday? As a dying

Timothy Leary

put it, why not?

The

S&P

March futures were trading about 1.5 points above fair value, indicating a decent open for whatever remains of today's market.

But tomorrow is Christmas -- and so a broad-based rally by the entire market seems less likely than individual stocks rising on good news or sentiment. Then again, it only takes 1/100th of a point for the

Nasdaq

and the

S&P

to set a new record, and the

Dow

has broken through 9200 once again.

Stocks were mixed overseas. The

Hang Seng

rose 133 points, or 1.3%, to 10292, while the

Nikkei

lost 72 points to 13706. Most European stocks rose, save for the

FTSE

, down 41 points to trade at 5867. The

Dax

was up 126 points, or 2.6%, to 4951.

The Russian

Moscow Times

index was flat today, after Prime Minister

Yevgeny Primakov

threatened that the government would resign if the

Duma

, Russia's congressional body, rejected the budget plan that the government had drawn up. Budget passage is crucial for the government to settle its accounts with foreign creditors.

Those who enjoyed piling into

America Online

(AOL)

in off-exchange trading might not have the same opportunity in the future because of the advantage that affords institutional investors. The S&P is considering changing its method of announcing new additions to the index,

The Wall Street Journal

reported. AOL closed yesterday unchanged at 138.

Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Report

could head higher this morning after reporting a better-than-expected loss last night. The company reported a loss of 19 cents per share for the first quarter, better than the 28 cents expected by 18 analysts.

Northwest Natural Gas

>

(NWNG)

, a Portland, Ore.-based utility, said fourth-quarter profit will be two cents below analyst expectations of 79 cents.

Ford

(F) - Get Report

said it had sold its 9% share in South Korea's

Kia Motors

to

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

. Ford closed at 58 6/16 yesterday.

The 30-year Treasury bond was up 9/32 to 101 1/32, and the yield dropped to 5.18%. Japanese Finance Minister

Kiichi Miyazawa

said the ministry trust fund's recent decision to stop buying JGBs, or Japanese government bonds, does not mean it will sell its current holdings. "There is absolutely no intention of that," Miyazawa told reporters.