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After seeing it chop all last week, it is something to see a morning in which stocks look pretty much flat.

It may be that stock traders, with their renewed interest in where rates are going, have caught the same malaise as their counterparts in the Treasury market: waiting for


. The


chairman is set to give his semiannual


testimony before the


tomorrow, and with some fretting that the


is considering tightening the screws, there's a good deal of handsitting going on this morning.

"Everyone will be waiting to see what he has to say," said Dan Mathinsson, head of stock trading at

D.E. Shaw Securities

. "I don't think we're going to have a particularly high-volume day."

At 9 a.m. EST, the

S&P 500

futures were off 1 in the


electronic trading session, sitting at fair value.

But though the broader market doesn't look all that inspiring, tech issues may do well.

"Globex is down, but we're seeing bids in the tech stocks and the Internet stocks," said Mathisson. "We'll see some strength in the tech stocks at the open."

Over in the Treasury market, the long bond was under some pressure. This is strange given the strength of the dollar. The


finance ministers who met in


this weekend had little to say about exchange rates -- which was taken as tacit approval of the upwardly mobile greenback. The 30-year was lately off 6/32 to 97 27/32, lifting the yield to 5.40%. But shorter-term paper was basically flat.

Japanese stocks gained ground, helped along by a bond market that continues its rebound and by dollar strength. The


added 158.63, or 1.1%, to 14,256.67.

Also boosting the market,

Taku Yamasaki

, a major force in the ruling

Liberal Democratic Party's

most powerful faction (who has designs on the prime ministership), suggested that public funds be used to buy land and stock to help companies unwind cross shareholdings.

Action in Hong Kong was languid ahead of the 1998 results of market heavyweight


. The

Hang Seng

slipped 24.78 to 9229.34. After the close, HSBC announced that its net profit fell 21%. HSBC was down 4.8% in London trading.

In European action, stocks were mixed. Frankfurt's


was up 34.27 to 4836.65. In Paris, the


was down 11.85 to 4118.63. And in London, the


was off 21.9 to 6009.3.

Monday's Wake-Up Watchlist


Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

  • Telecom Italiaundefined chose four investment banks to help it fend off a nearly $60 billion hostile bid by Olivetti, a Telecom source told Reuters. The firms are J.P. Morgan (JPM) - Get Free Report, Credit Suisse First Boston, Italy's IMI and Lazard Brothers of Britain, according to the report.
  • Dominion Resources (D) - Get Free Report is buying Consolidated Natural Gas (CNG) for $6.3 billion in stock. The deal is expected to become accretive to earnings per share by the end of the second year after completion of the transaction.
  • United Technologies (UTX) - Get Free Report is buying Sundstrand (SNS) for $4.3 billion. wrote about a burst of activity in Sundstrand options on Friday.
  • Sempra Energy (SRE) - Get Free Report is acquiring KN Energyundefined for $1.8 billion in cash and stock. The deal also calls for Sempra to assume $4.2 billion in KN Energy debt. The companies see the deal closing in six to eight months.
  • Southwest Gas (SWX) - Get Free Report says it has received an unsolicited $32-a-share acquisition offer from Southern Union (SUG) . Southwest Gas closed Friday at 26 5/8.
  • Bank Oneundefined will slash 200 jobs, or 20% of its international commercial-banking workforce outside the U.S., primarily in London.
  • (BYND) - Get Free Report is acquiring, an online software retailer, for about $134 million. expects to complete the transaction by the end of March.
  • Goldman Sachs in the past couple of weeks has created an exploratory committee to examine its future use of the Internet, including how it could jump into the world of online trading, The Wall Street Journal reported. Among the issues the committee is pondering is whether Goldman should buy an online brokerage firm or set up a joint venture with an online trading company, the article said. Meanwhile, the Heard on the Street column in the Journal focuses on E*Tradeundefined.
  • Lowe's (LOW) - Get Free Report posted fourth-quarter earnings of 30 cents a share, beating the First Call 23-analyst consensus estimate of 27 cents and the year-ago 21 cents.
  • H&R Block (HRB) - Get Free Report posted a third-quarter loss from continuing operations of 3 cents a share, better than the year-ago loss of 14 cents.
  • Qualcomm (QCOM) - Get Free Report and Ericssonundefined are close to a deal that would end a long-running patent dispute and could aid in resolving a looming international trade conflict over the future of wireless communications, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
  • Riddell Sports (RDL) signed a nonbinding letter of intent to form, a joint venture with Data Broadcasting (DBCC) and Dawntreader Fund I, to market the company's brands on the Web and "provide timely and relevant content for the consumer communities." Data Broadcasting, along with CBS (CBS) - Get Free Report, owns about 75% of (MKTW) , while Dawntreader Fund I is a venture capital fund formed by Robert Lessin, who is chairman of Wit Capital Group. Lessin used to be vice chairman at Solomon Smith Barney, a division of Citigroup (C) - Get Free Report.
  • 3Com (COMS) - Get Free Report unit Palm Computing unveiled the Palm V and the Palm IIIx.
  • Tenneco (TEN) - Get Free Report CEO Dana Mead hopes to sell the company's auto unit and concentrate on making Tenneco a specialty-packaging titan, according to an article in Barron's. Mead told Barron's that he hopes the auto unit will fetch $4 billion. The article says some value players think the parts of Tenneco could be worth considerably more than the current stock price if the company were broken up.
  • Volvo (VOLVY) said it has broken off discussions with Scania's principal owner, Investor, to buy Investor's shareholding in Scania. Volvo has acquired a 13% interest and said it does not intend to sell its holding in Scania.