Greenspan's Words Loom Over a Mixed Market

Stocks moved modestly higher overseas, but the futures here suggest a downtrend.
Publish date:

Stocks are set for a bit of a downdraft at the open. Let's blame

Alan Greenspan




head will offer up the second leg of his


testimony at 10 a.m. EDT, this time speaking before the


banking committee. The Fed has confirmed -- as usual -- that the chairman will be giving the same speech he gave to the House last week, but traders always worry that something new will come out in the question-and-answer session.

They always worry about that, and they're almost always wrong to. At worst, what Big Al says will be a reminder of how hawkish he was last week. Seems like the market could be serving up a softball: Stocks open lower; Greenspan doesn't say anything new; stocks go higher.

The problem is with the market's generally bearish tone. Traders at the

Chicago Merc

were quick to sell after the stock market closed last night, knocking the

S&P 500

futures sharply off their highs in the last half-hour of trading.

"Yesterday was pretty much a head fake," said Bill Meehan, market analyst at

Cantor Fitzgerald

. "I was advising clients to put on some shorts." Meehan thinks the market will "probably chop around early."

At 9 a.m., the S&P futures were up 3.3 -- still nearly 4 below fair value and indicating a drop at the bell.

Treasuries were showing no reaction to a weaker-than-expected June

durable goods

report. The long bond was lately down 7/32 to 89 8/32, putting the yield at 6.03%. Trading is incredibly thin ahead of the Greenspan testimony.

Bond traders will be paying some attention to the travails of the dollar today. The greenback appears to have found support near the 116-yen level, helped by some false reports of

Bank of Japan

buying, as well as chatter about how Japan and the U.S. will jointly intervene if the dollar drops below 115.

The stability of the dollar helped investors stanch six days of losses in Tokyo, taking the


up 117.19 to 17,579.91. A weak dollar hurts exporters' profits and introduces pricing pressure at home -- not what Japan's still-suffering economy needs.

Hong Kong stocks drifted higher on the back of gains in the banking sector. The

Hang Seng

tacked on 65.33 to 13,140.42.

European bourses were flat. In Frankfurt, the

Xetra Dax

was up 23.25 to 5247.41. In Paris, the


was up 0.96 to 4427.08. And in London, the


was up 10.2 to 6273.

Wednesday's Wake-Up Watchlist


Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(Earnings estimates are from

First Call



(CVS) - Get Report

posted second-quarter earnings of 40 cents a share, ahead of the 14-analyst estimate of 38 cents and above the year-ago operating earnings of 32 cents.



posted second-quarter earnings of 18 cents a share, 2 cents ahead of the 13-analyst estimate, but down from the year-ago pro-forma 24 cents, before special items

Fleetwood Enterprises


said preliminary first-quarter sales reached $955 million, a 14% jump over $840.2 million in the year-ago period. But the company reiterated the first-quarter profit warning it gave in May when it reported fourth-quarter results.

Infinity Broadcasting

(INF) - Get Report

reported second-quarter earnings of 12 cents a share, above the six-analyst estimate of 11 cents and up from the year-ago 10 cents.

Just for Feet


estimates its net loss for the second quarter to be in the range of 70 cents to 80 cents a share. Just for Feet said it expects to announce results during the week of Aug 23. It also said it entered into an amendment to its $200 million revolving credit facility, and in the personnel department, on Aug. 1, Helen Rockey, currently the company's president and chief operating officer, will become president and CEO.


(KLAC) - Get Report

posted second-quarter earnings of 28 cents a share, 2 cents ahead of the 19-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 26 cents, which excludes a charge.

Kenneth Cole Productions


posted second-quarter earnings of 26 cents a share, ahead of the six-analyst estimate of 23 cents and up from the year-ago 18 cents.

Norfolk Southern

(NSC) - Get Report

reported second-quarter earnings of 20 cents a share in line with the nine-analyst estimate.

PacifiCare Health Systems


posted second-quarter earnings of $1.49 a share, a penny ahead of the 19-analyst estimate.

Pharmacia & Upjohn


posted second-quarter earnings of 41 cents a share, in line with the 16-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 36 cents, which excludes an item.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Glaxo Wellcome



SmithKline Beecham

(SBH) - Get Report

are expected to announce multimillion-dollar collaboration deals with two companies that are trying to make old drugs do new tricks, including using the antibiotic tetracycline to combat drug-resistant bacteria,

The Wall Street Journal





(AN) - Get Report

set a marketing pact under which AutoNation will sell new cars to consumers who name their own price via's new vehicle service on the Internet.

Offerings and stock actions

Credit Suisse First Boston


American National Can's

(CAN:NYSE) 30 million-share IPO below-range at $17. Elsewhere, the firm priced

Liberate Tech's

(LBRT:Nasdaq) 6.25 million-share IPO above-range at $16.'s

(DSCM:Nasdaq) 5 million-share IPO priced above-range at $18 by

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

. The price range for the online drugstore's offering initially was set for $9-$11 and then was raised to $15-$17.

Ryan Beck


National Medical Health's

(NMHC:Nasdaq) 2 million-share initial offering midrange at $7.50.

BancBoston Robertson Stephens



(PKTR:Nasdaq) 4 million-share IPO above-range at $15. The company is a software provider, and the pricing comes after the price range for its offering was raised to $12-$14 from $10-$12.

Merrill Lynch


Quokka Sports'

(QKKA:Nasdaq) 5 million-share initial offering midrange at $12. The company is an online sports entertainment programmer.

Analyst actions

Merrill Lynch named


(MCD) - Get Report

its Focus One stock of the week.




(MT) - Get Report

to attractive from buy.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter downgraded



to outperform from strong buy.


A group of members of the

New York Society of Security Analysts

, who are examining how corporate-governance practices could enhance shareholder value, will release as early as today the results of a six-month inquiry into their first test subject:

National Presto

(NPK) - Get Report

. The results are likely to be ugly, according to the Heard on the Street column in the