Heard a guy near Union Square last night talking (on his cell phone, of course) about how sick he was of hearing about

Dow

10,000 and how he was thinking of buying the

Russell

.

It's getting hard to figure out which is more annoying, the hoopla about the approaching milestone or the people who talk about how little it matters. The latter strike one as similar to someone who tries to avoid acknowledging his birthday, saying that another trip around the sun is meaningless, and that it shouldn't be any different than any other day. Ensuring that he has a more miserable day on his birthday than he would otherwise have.

Salomon Smith Barney

portfolio strategist John Manley, who just turned 45 (doesn't look a day over 43), thinks the birthday analogy is apt. It's a benchmark year, 45, and it changes your outlook. So too with big milestones in stocks: "The gradations are artificial," said Manley, "but the movements are not."

So sure, the big round number means something. Which isn't to deny that Wall Street is getting tired of hearing about it. "I hope that it happens and goes out of our lives," said Ned Collins, vice president of equity trading at

Daiwa Securities Amercia

, "so we can go on with what the market is really about." Whatever that is.

The market, however, is showing a little caution gong into 10,000 this morning.

This despite a plethora of positives -- fine moves in Asia, Europe looking good, the yield on the long bond nearing 5.5%. Perhaps there is no way that the people trading the

S&P 500

futures overnight will bid them high enough to push above 10,000 at the open.

And so, at 9 a.m. EST the S&Ps were up 1.2, putting them about a point below fair value and indicating some weakness. Never a perfect indicator, the index futures are probably even less perfect these days.

The 30-year Treasury was up 3/32 to 96 4/32, dropping the yield to 5.52%.

Tokyo's

Nikkei

added 293.22, or 1.9%, to 16,072.82, breaking the 16,000 mark for the first time since August. More significantly, the index is within 500 points of where it closed out fiscal 1997 on March 31 of last year. The government would love for the index to end in the black for the first time in three years.

As usual, this raises questions of how much of the current rally is due to public funds buying at the government's behest -- what the Japanese press has dubbed PKO, or "price-keeping operations" -- and how much is based on honest hopes that the economy has found its bottom. And it raises the question of what will happen April 1. On one hand, you would expect to see something of a pullback. On the other, any unwinding of cross-shareholding -- something that's weighed on the market -- will be over by then. Furthermore, if a big part of Japan's problems been a crisis of confidence, there's something to be said for the Nikkei rising.

Pushed higher by Wall Street's gains, Hong Kong stocks hit their best level since last April. The

Hang Seng

added 74.39 to 10,911.25.

The news that the

European Union Commission

, Europe's executive body, resigned early this morning has had very little effect on stocks there. It was likely that the Commission would have been ousted anyway -- a European Parliament report yesterday detailed some serious bungling.

In Frankfurt, the

Dax

was up 72.93, or 1.5%, to 5102.17. In Paris, the

CAC

was off 0.84 to 4184.28. In London, the

FTSE

was up 40.6 to 6247.4.

Tuesday's Wake-Up Watchlist

By

Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average component Union Carbide (UK) said first-quarter operating earnings should come in within a few cents of the highest-published First Call analyst estimate, which is 47 cents. The current 10-analyst consensus estimate has Union Carbide earning 34 cents a share in the first quarter.
  • French automaker Renault is expected to make a formal offer to buy one-third of Nissan (NSANY) today, The Wall Street Journal reported. Renault's board is to meet this morning and will likely approve the move, the Journal reported, citing people close to the company.
  • Morgan Stanley Dean Witter upgraded several semiconductor equipment makers. The firm upgraded ASM Lithography (ASML) - Get Report, Cymer (CYMI) , Dupont Photomask (DPMI) and Etec Systems (ETEC) , all to strong buy from outperform. In other news (earnings estimates from First Call):
  • Boeing (BA) - Get Report, another Dow component, announced the launch of Boeing Airplane Services, a new business dedicated to postdelivery modification and engineering services for commercial airplanes.
  • Cyberian Outpost (COOL) , a global Internet retailer of computer hardware, software and accessories, announced the launch of its new online auction site, OutpostAuctions.com.
  • GenCorp (GY) posted first-quarter earnings of 41 cents a share, beating the three-analyst estimate of 34 cents and the year-ago 31 cents.
  • Merck (MRK) - Get Report, another Dow component, said the Food and Drug Administration approved the expanded use of its cholesterol-lowering medicine Mevacor. Mevacor is now indicated to reduce the risk of first heart attack, unstable angina and coronary revascularization procedures, the company said.
  • The 19 state attorneys general who joined the federal government's antitrust suit against Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report say they won't be satisfied -- should they win the landmark case -- with any remedy that doesn't revamp Mister Softee, The New York Times reported. The Times reported that as equal partners in the suit, the attorneys general hold something like veto power over the kinds of remedies the government can recommend. The newspaper said the remedy garnering the most favor currently would force Microsoft to license the source code for the company's Windows operating system to several other companies, which would instantly create competition in the operating system arena.
  • Solectron (SLR) posted second-quarter earnings of 26 cents a share yesterday, in line with the 20-analyst view and up from the year-ago 20 cents. Credit Suisse First Boston bumped its price target on Solectron to 59 from 49. The stock closed Monday at 46.
  • Synetic (SNTC) expects sales and operating profit for the quarters ending March 31 and June 30 to fall short of expectations.
  • TCI said revenue totaled $5.97 billion for 1998, down from 1997's $6.42 billion. Cable operating cash flow, slipped to $2.58 billion from $2.86 billion in 1997. AT&T's (T) - Get Report acquisition of TCI was completed last week.