The broad big-cap market's attempt to extend its two-day rally is going to be a touch-and-go affair. But things look strong for the early part of today's session.
At 9:05 a.m. EST, the
futures were up 4, about 7 points above fair value and indicating a good wave of program-buying at the opening bell.
It's tough to say whether that strength will stick. Only the most hardened technology investors would say that yesterday's rally in Old Economy stocks wasn't just a little bit encouraging. Value managers are certainly finding reason for optimism, at least.
Still, the interest-rate environment remains as hostile as it was a week ago. And to a chartist, the two-day resurgence of the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
still has the look of the latest development in a series of lower highs and lower lows.
"The flavor of the last couple days has been pretty good," said John Manahan, head trader at
Brown Brothers Harriman
. "But we need more backing and filling to see whether it's going to continue here. And that's what I expect to see today."
For all the hopeful talk about a possible reversal of fortune for value stocks, the hot money remains intensely focused on growth. Even with all the strength that tech and biotech have shown this year, yesterday's session had something that the market hasn't really seen since late last year: gargantuan moves in a surprisingly broad number of stocks. Nearly 8% of the 1,926 companies with market capitalizations greater than $1 billion gained more than 10%. No fewer than 25 of those companies advanced a staggering 20% or more.
One of those companies was
. And investors can, and will, argue over whether the recent huge leaps in the valuations of that stocks will ultimately be borne out by the fundamentals -- whether, that is, the wireless-device movement ever produces the massive licensing fees promised by 3Com's
unit. But the vast majority of yesterday's big upside movers were flying on no real news whatsoever.
So it's possible that wireless plays and biotech could see some profit-taking. But there's no real sign that the hot money is ready to turn tail yet. The
futures were lately up 4.65 to 4305, well off their morning lows and a decent indication for large-cap technology.
"All anyone wants to talk about is tech and biotech," said Manahan. "It's the same story."
3Com was trading at 102 9/16 on
, up from a close of 98.
Meanwhile, a couple of
stocks have moved into the wireless headlines.
are in talks to merge their U.S. cellular-phone businesses to create a nearly national wireless provider, according to
The Wall Street Journal
, which cited people familiar with the matter.
The bond market was edging higher, with the 10-year Treasury up 10/32 to 100 31/32 and yielding 6.367%. The 30-year bond, meanwhile, was up 8/32 to 101 26/32, putting its yield at 6.117%. The day's big data will come out at 10 a.m., in the form of the
National Association of Purchasing Management
The large European indices were higher in early afternoon trading. London's
was up 96.6, or 1.6%, to 6329.2. But things were much cooler on the Continent, where the Paris
was up 26.30 to 6217.26, while Frankfurt's
was up 22.36 to 7666.91.
The euro was trading at $0.9660.
Yesterday's broad strength on Wall Street wasn't able to induce a unilaterally positive reaction in Asian markets.
After all the hype in recent weeks over
Pacific Century CyberWorks
and its takeover of
Cable & Wireless HKT
, investors decided to let some air out of the Hong Kong market. The
sank 325.85, or 1.9%, to 16,843.59. PCCW dropped 6.6%, while C&W HK lost 12.5%.
In Tokyo, buying in tech and financial stocks helped the
regain the psychologically key 20,000 level. The index rose 122.15 to 20,081.67.
Yen-buying from U.S. fund managers helped send the dollar down to 109.15 yen in Tokyo trading. Traders said the yen could see another bout of buying as domestic fund managers start selling dollar-denominated assets before the March 31 fiscal year-end to dress up portfolios.
survey found that an increasing number of Japanese fund managers have been repatriating money back home in reaction to rising U.S. rates. A survey of 11 fund managers who control some of the largest pools of assets in Japan found that their weightings of U.S. equities was at 37.7%, the lowest in four years.
The greenback was lately sitting at 108.19 yen.
closed up 9.37, or 1.1%, at 828.38.
For a look at stocks in the preopen news, see Stocks to Watch, published separately.