Stocks don't quite know how to behave this morning, and action should be pretty tame as Wall Street waits idly and nervously on tomorrow's big rate decision. But tech could get some early bounce as
futures have scrambled off earlier weakness.
In any case, at 9:15 a.m. EDT the
reported April industrial output as up 0.9% vs.
consensus poll estimates of 0.7%, which some economists say might mean more agressive monetary action by the Fed tomorrow.
At 7:53 a.m. EDT, the
S&P 500 futures
were down 1.2 points, just about 1 point above fair value, providing little indication for the early going. The Nasdaq 100 futures had flipped into the green and were up 17.5 points, indicating some possible buying pressure in large-cap technology stocks for the open.
"Futures are firming up a little bit. We might be able to rally some indices this morning," said Doug Myers, vice president of equity trading at
"People may come back from the weekend and see stocks looking cheap," he said, despite last week's Thursday and Friday rallies.
"That's the million dollar question."
Even so, not a whole lot of anything can be expected for today, as investors kill time ahead of tomorrow's April
Consumer Price Index
and, more importantly, the anxiously awaited
Federal Open Market Committee
meeting, where Fed boss
and his team will decide how much to raise interest rates this time around.
The hot and heavy March CPI figure was what first inspired fears of a more aggressive Fed a month ago, and Wall Street is now overwhelmingly expecting a 50-basis point boost for tomorrow. But investors are looking for a lot more certainty and will be searching for clues to the Fed's plans for the rest of the year.
Volume certainly isn't going to turn around yet.
"Volume is going to be pretty moderate. You're not going to see record volume on a day like today. Anything different would be a surprise," Myers added.
The few that were brave enough to get in on Friday's second straight skinny-volume rally had already begun to tire by late afternoon, as uncertainty over the heady clip of the economy and Alan Greenspan's plans for slowing it in coming months returned to the fore, and stocks slipped off of intraday highs.
Some observers think stocks have already retested their April lows and are in the process of stabilizing. Last week's benign
Producer Price Index
may have been an indication that the Fed's monetary tightening in the past year has finally had some effect on the economy.
But if the Fed gives any signs that a lot more tightening is on the way, stocks could be in for some more downside. The major indices are still well off their mid-March highs for the year.
Some companies that may attract a bit of action today include
( LCOS) and Spanish-language Internet portal
( TRRA), as
The Wall Street Journal
reported Terra offered about $10 billion in stock for Lycos.
Others to watch include
( DA), which have placed bids on stakes in
big food group today. Private financier Carl Icahn has also offered to buy a stake while
, meanwhile, offered to buy the company's noncookie business.
And the market will be keeping an eye on
, which emerged as the winner in the bidding war for
( UPM) decided not to raise its $6.8 billion offer.
Meanwhile, earnings just won't go away, and today's list includes
Toys R Us
( TOY) and
The Treasury market continued accumulate strength this morning after giving up earlier gains Friday to stocks, and the 10-year note was up 8/32 to 100 2/32 and yielding 6.487%.
At midsession, the large
European bourses were mixed ahead of the Fed's expected rate-increase decision. The Paris
was up 7.96, or 0.12%, to 6457.23, while Frankfurt's
was off 21.86, or 0.30%, to 7247.42. In London, the
lost 10.8, or 0.17%, to 6272.7.
The euro was trading down at $0.9149.
Asian markets slipped Monday ahead of tomorrow's FOMC meeting.
Hong Kong stocks closed lower as investors skimmed profits from blue-chips in thin trade. China-related shares, meanwhile, rose on hopes Beijing will settle a trade deal with the European Union. The
index was off 230.64, or 1.53%, to 14881.30.
index shed 11.63 points, or 1.6%, to 728.67, as investors worried about foreigners leaving the market if the U.S. economy cools down.
In Tokyo, the
closed 44.17 lower, or 0.25%, to 17313.69 as investors looked ahead to U.S. rates and Japanese earnings.
The dollar rose narrowly against the yen to around 108.69 in Tokyo trading. Lately it had fallen off to 109.30 yen.
For a look at stocks in the preopen news, see Stocks to Watch, published separately