Here's a fun game you can play at home. Get yourself a bottle of ... something, give your car keys to some responsible person and turn on
. Every time someone talks about how stocks might have gone "too far, too fast," take a shot.
From the looks of things this morning, you might get snookered. After yesterday's
rally, stocks look like they'll be heading lower. At 9 a.m. EST, the
futures were off 7, more than 4 below fair value and indicating a negative open.
But it seems doubtful that any selling this morning will be particularly severe. "I don't expect to see them sell off sharply today," said Jim Volk, co-director of institutional trading at
. "I think we're in a trading range here until we start to get earnings news."
The big question of the day is how the last couple of hours of trading will go. With more
strikes on Serbia expected, investors will need to decide how much stock they want to hold into the weekend. Cautious types will want to nail down gains. Others will bet that nothing untoward will happen and Monday morning will bring something of a relief rally. And so on.
"That's the normal psychological pattern" when these situations arise, said Volk. "I think internationally things seem to be all right unless something crazy happens over the weekend." Volk expects that there will be a bit of late-day selling by nervous types.
Oil stocks, however, look like they might do a bit better than the broader market. The explosion at
Richmond, Calif., refinery has helped boost oil 29 cents to $15.63 a barrel.
The 30-year Treasury bond was up 12/32 to 95 16/32, dropping the yield to 5.57%.
Japanese stocks were mixed. Foreign favorites like
helped propel the
up 30.95 to 16,016.99, but decliners beat advancing issues by a slim margin.
With traders already beginning to lock in gains ahead of the long Easter weekend, Hong Kong stocks slumped. The
lost 22.82 to 10,803.31.
Europe's major continental bourses were lower on the back of continued euro weakness -- with the trouble in Kosovo, many would prefer to hold dollars heading into the weekend.
In Frankfurt, the
was off 56.17, or 1.2%, to 4804.09. In Paris, the
was down 21.74 to 4115.27.
Over in the U.K., though, stocks were higher. The
was up 25.6 to 6110.6.
Friday's Wake-Up Watchlist
- Today a government advisory panel is slated to debate whether the
Food and Drug Administration should expand or restrict the use of
Warner-Lambert's (WLA) diabetes drug
extensively recently about Rezulin and related matters.
An explosion and fire rocked a Chevron refinery yesterday afternoon in Richmond, Calif. No workers were injured in the incident, but two Chevron firefighters sustained minor injuries and were treated and released, the company said. Chevron said the incident isn't expected to have a significant effect on its ability to supply petroleum products to customers. The explosion occurred in a hydrocracking unit, a processing device that converts gas oil into gasoline and jet fuel, Chevron said. The fire was contained about two hours after the explosion, Chevron said.
Compaq (CPQ) is increasing sales incentives on its
Prosignia personal computers, in an effort to make it more profitable for resellers to carry the line of PCs,
The Wall Street Journal reported.
Nissan (NSANY) are expected to announce a deal tomorrow in which Renault will pay $5.5 billion for about 35% of Nissan, the
Cort Business Services (CBZ) - Get Report, a rental furniture provider, has agreed to be acquired by members of its management and an investment firm in a deal valued at $453 million, including the assumption of debt. The buyout group will pay $24 in cash and $2.50 in liquidation value of new preferred stock for each share of Cort. Cort closed yesterday at 16 3/4.
In other news:
General Cigar (MPP) is selling its mass-market cigar business to
Swedish Match for $200 million in cash. Among the brands General Cigar is selling:
Garcia y Vega,
Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report is slated to get together on Tuesday for settlement talks with the
Justice Department and the states regarding the antitrust case against it.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter upgraded
Lexmark (LXK) to strong buy from outperform.
Merrill Lynch raised its price target on
McDonald's (MCD) - Get Report to 55 from 50.
Some institutional investors and analysts say they're not eager to load up on shares of
Pepsi Bottling Group, whose IPO is slated to come to market next week, with an expected price range of 23 to 26, especially if it is priced at the upper end of the projected range, the Heard on the Street column in the
Journal reports. The article quoted an unidentified institutional investor and large
PepsiCo (PEP) - Get Report shareholder as saying the IPO is going to do OK because of the support it will get from the underwriters, but the investor says, "I don't think you can point to anyone who is jumping up and down about this."
Salomon Smith Barney upgraded
Pharmacia & Upjohn (PNU) to buy from outperform.
An international arbitrator has ordered Internet service provider
PSINet (PSIX) to pay $49 million in damages to
Chatterjee Management Co. relating to a failed joint venture between the two to develop the European Internet market.
The Inside Wall Street column in
Business Week says some investment pros think
Comfort Systems USA (FIX) - Get Report may be a takeover target. Marc Baylin, analyst and portfolio manager at
T. Rowe Price Associates, which owns almost 7% of the stock, is quoted as saying: "Comfort would be a wonderful acquisition for a large utility." The column says Comfort Chief Executive Fred Ferreira wouldn't say whether he's been approached.
In another item in the column, Ryan Rauch of
CIBC Oppenheimer says
PolyMedica (PLMD) has a valuation that is compelling, and he is quoted as saying the company is a "prime acquisition target for companies looking to enhance their direct-to-consumer marketing efforts." Rauch thinks the stock is worth $20 a share in a takeover, the column says.
Telescan (TSCN) garners bullish mention in the column.