Despite Some Glimmers of Hope, Stocks Still Look Lower

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For a moment there, it looked like stocks might open higher.

The futures were climbing, European indices were improving, things looked, if not rosy, not so grim.

That's not the case anymore. At 9:05 a.m. EDT, the

S&P 500

futures were unchanged, putting them about 11 points below fair value, and indicating a negative open.

The prospects for tech stocks look a lot better on

Intel's

(INTC) - Get Report

announcement

last night that it expects its third-quarter revenue to come in 8% to 10% higher. Intel is up 4 3/16 to 83 1/4 in premarket trading.

The flight-to-quality trading in the Treasury market continues, abetted somewhat by a weaker-than-expected August

Producer Price Index

. The headline number on the PPI showed a decline of 0.4%, while the core, which excludes the volatile food and energy sectors, slipped 0.1%. Economists had expected a decline of 0.1% in the headline and an increase of 0.1% in the core. The PPI will likely accelerate talk of a potential ease at the Sept. 29 meeting of the

Federal Open Market Committee

.

Stocks got whacked in Tokyo, as fears that the Clinton presidency is entering its final hours conspired with the usual jitters over the Japanese economy to send the

Nikkei

down 749.05, or 5.1%, to close at 13,916.98.

Shorts evidently had a heyday, spreading some pretty wild rumors about what was in the Starr report and predicting an imminent resignation. Pretty good timing -- today was the special quotation, the expiration of index options and futures, and that steepened the selling.

In Hong Kong, stocks got hit hard by the declines in the U.S. and Japan. The

Hang Seng

plummeted 271.48, or 3.5%, to close at 7578.48.

Europe's major markets are all lower with banks -- hurt by worries about developing market loans and derivative plays gone sour -- and exporters leading the way. In Frankfurt, the

Dax

was down 26.73, or 0.6%, to 4720.60. In Paris, the

CAC

was down 62.79, or 1.8%, to 3526.56. In London, the

FTSE

was down 110.80, or 2.2%, to 5025.80.

Friday's Wake-Up Watchlist

By Brian Louis
Staff Reporter

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

Chairman Michael Dell said yesterday his company was having a "great" third quarter. The chairman did not give further details but said he did not expect the Asian economic crisis and turmoil in the world's financial markets to be a drag on the company's growth, according to a

Reuters

report.

AMP

(AMP) - Get Report

Chairman Robert Ripp plans to give shareholders a "down payment" to entice them to reject a takeover bid by

AlliedSignal

(ALD)

,

The Wall Street Journal

reported today. The

Journal

said the decision to offer investors a near-term economic incentive indicates that just telling investors to have faith in the company's profit-improvement plan isn't enough to squelch the draw of AlliedSignal's $44.50-per-share cash offer.

Nucor

(NUE) - Get Report

notified customers of a significant price cut for its most important steel products, the

Journal

reported.

Trikon Technologies

(TRKN)

will cut about 73 positions this month. The workforce reduction and other cost-cutting measures will result in a nonrecurring charge for the third quarter.

La-Z-Boy

(LZB) - Get Report

is one of the stocks that has held up in the recent market downdraft because of its "increasingly positive fundamentals," says Elliott Schlang of

Lynch Jones & Ryan

, a Cleveland investment firm, in this week's Inside Wall Street column in

Business Week

. (While stocks said to have merger prospects in the Inside Wall Street column often rally on the day of publication, the column is often off the mark.)

Sugen

(SUGN)

may be ready for new deals with strategic partners eager to increase their stake in the company, another item in

Business Week's

Inside Wall Street column says.