IBM Strength Should Ignite Tech

The S&P futures currently indicate a very positive opening.
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Worries that signs of a pulse in the heretofore lifeless cyclical stocks would leave tech stocks in a lurch were laid to rest by

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

last night.

Big Blue reported first-quarter earnings of $1.55 a share, making the

First Call

consensus estimate of $1.41 look like

Sonny Liston

in the sixth. Trading up 20 3/8 to 192 1/4 on

Instinet

, the computer maker is set to lift tech -- and the broader market -- higher.

"It's always good to see a company make $1.5 billion," said Doug Myers, vice president of equity trading at

Interstate/Johnson Lane

. "Looking at my screen, things are upticking."

Traders have said that the thing they would like most to see is tech hanging in there while the market broadened. "You want to hit on all cylinders," said Myers. IBM looks like it may have single-handedly fulfilled those wishes.

As of 9 a.m. EDT, stocks are set to soar on the open. The

S&P 500

futures were up 7.3, better than 15 above fair value and indicating a very strong open. The 30-year Treasury was holding flat at 96 1/32, putting the yield at 5.52%.

Japan's

Nikkei

climbed 170.86 to 16,665.88 on the strength of global blue-chips and technology issues, but cyclicals fell prey to profit taking.

Japan Telecom

was the feature of the day on reports that

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

and

British Telecom

(BTY)

will jointly take a 30% stake in the company. Shares in Japan Telecom rose 10.5% on the news.

With heavy speculation that Friday will bring the interbank rate cuts that everyone was hoping for

last

week, Hong Kong stocks saw foreign cash again flood its market. The

Hang Seng

added 389.78, or 3.1%, to 12,933.54.

European stocks were getting goosed by Wall Street's gains yesterday and by confirmation of

Deutsche Telekom's

(DT) - Get Report

combination with

Telecom Italia

(TI)

. In Frankfurt, the

Dax

was up 77.22, or 1.5%, to 5240.51. In Paris, the

CAC

was up 17.91 to 4309.51.

London stocks were higher, with retailer performing particularly well. It seems that

Warren Buffett

isn't the only one shopping in the U.K. The British government confirmed that Prime Minister

Tony Blair

met with

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

management four weeks ago. The

FTSE

was up 128.9, or 2%, to 6439.9.

Thursday's Wake-Up Watchlist

By

Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

  • IBM after the close reported first-quarter earnings of $1.55 a share, flying past the 20-analyst First Call estimate of $1.41 and up from the year-ago $1.06. TheStreet.com wrote about IBM's earnings report in a story last night.
  • Telecom Italia and Deutsche Telekom agreed to merge. The linkup, however, still needs a host of approvals, including Telecom Italia shareholders, the Italian and German governments, and European and U.S. regulators.
  • Lucent (LU) posted second-quarter operating earnings of 17 cents a share, beating the First Call 27-analyst estimate of 15 cents and above the year-ago operating earnings of 7 cents. In other news (earnings estimates from First Call):
  • Bell Atlantic (BEL) posted first-quarter earnings of 73 cents, excluding charges, in line with the 17-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 66 cents.
  • Dow Chemical (DOW) - Get Report reported first-quarter earnings of $1.47 a share, beating the 14-analyst estimate of $1.31, but down from the year-ago $1.77, which excludes items.
  • GTE (GTE) - Get Report posted first-quarter operating earnings of 74 cents, in line with the 13-analyst estimate.
  • Knight-Ridder (KRI) reported first-quarter earnings of 65 cents a share, beating the 12-analyst estimate by 3 cents and up from the year-ago operating earnings of 45 cents.
  • McKesson HBOC (MCK) - Get Report reported fourth-quarter operating earnings of 62 cents a share, excluding charges, beating the 15-analyst estimate of 60 cents and up from the year-ago 43 cents.
  • Monsanto (MTC) - Get Report posted first-quarter earnings of 20 cents a share, beating the 14-analyst estimate of 16 cents, but down from the year-ago 32 cents.
  • Net.B@nk (NTBK) reported first-quarter earnings of 9 cents a share, in line with the three-analyst estimate and reversing the year-ago loss of 2 cents a share.
  • Network Solutions (NSOL) posted first-quarter earnings of 14 cents, 2 cents ahead of the eight-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 6 cents.
  • Primedia (PRM) plans to sell its supplemental education group. Proceeds from the sale will be used to reduce debt. The Wall Street Journal, which reported the news in today's paper, reported the group could fetch upward of $500 million.
  • Procter & Gamble (PG) - Get Report reported third-quarter earnings of 72 cents a share, beating the 15-analyst estimate by 2 cents and up from the year-ago 65 cents.
  • Schlumberger (SLB) - Get Report reported first-quarter operating earnings of 32 cents a share, topping the 25-analyst estimate of 30 cents, but down sharply from the year-ago 67 cents.
  • Charles Schwab (SCH) set a 2-for-1 stock split.
  • Sears (S) - Get Report posted first-quarter earnings of 38 cents a share, beating the 16-analyst estimate of 34 cents.
  • Xerox (XRX) - Get Report reported first-quarter earnings of 48 cents a share, in line with the 13-analyst estimate.