The holiday week does not want to go out quietly.
Prognosticaters of a holiday downturn in trading volume have been looking almost as perverse as those who've been calling for a technology correction throughout the
Nasdaq Composite Index's
push toward 4000. Volume has shown few signs of abatement, and the Comp now stands less than 70 points from its next big millennial threshold.
Sooner or later, one would assume, they'll both be right. Market players are starting to leave town, particularly in the near-comatose bond market, which will close at 2 p.m. EST today. There has also been talk that activity next week will be dampened by the desire to avoid having trades settle around the century date-change. Those factors should offset the number of retail players whose holiday vacations have allowed them to camp out full time on
But the market seems set to display its usual bustle today, at least in the early part of the session. "I don't think you're going to see anything that will qualify as a paucity of volume," said Bill Meehan, chief market analyst at
. "Of course, once we get to one o'clock, the bulk of the action will be done. But there's just too much easy money to be scooped up off the street to leave."
At 9:05 a.m., the
futures were up 7.5 to 1467.6, about 10.1 points above
fair value and indicating a strong open for stocks. The
futures, more thinly traded than the S&Ps, but still a decent gauge of tech sentiment, were up 30.50 to 3650.
The bond market was slightly firmer, the 30-year Treasury was up 5/32 to 95 28/32, putting the yield at 6.438%. The bonds didn't have much reaction to the morning's most salient data: November durable goods orders, which rose 1.2%, slightly higher than expectations. At 2 p.m. the
will release the minutes of its monetary policymaking committee's Nov. 16 meeting.
You can chalk up a lot of the strength in U.S. stock futures to Europe, where the large indices were going stratospheric in early afternoon trading.
was 61.7 higher, or 0.9%, to 6790.3, while the Paris
was up 123.97, or 2.2%, to 5745.26.
In Frankfurt, the
blew through the 6,500 barrier with authority, the index lately up 239.65, or 3.7%, to 6732.18. Financial stocks were leading the charge after German Chancellor
unveiled a tax plan that includes the elimination of taxes on asset sales by companies. German financial services firms like
have large stakes in several non-core industrial businesses.
The euro continues to loll around just above dollar parity. The European currency was lately trading at $1.0098, off its early low of $1.0074.
, one of the few major world indices that didn't mount a huge rally on the heels of the
decision on Tuesday to maintain its neutral policy bias, moved higher overnight. The index added 103.38, or 0.6%, to 16,296.08.
Tokyo markets were closed today in celebration of the Emperor's birthday. The dollar was little changed against the yen in thin Asian trading, hanging around the 101.6 level before easing back to a low of 101.33 in London. The greenback was lately quoted back up at 101.66 yen.
Thursday's Wake-Up Watchlist
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
Citicorp International Finance Corporation
has agreed to take a 20% stake in the company. The interest is valued at roughly $40 million.
, announced after yesterday's close that Japan-based
has agreed to purchase Qualcomm's consumer phone division for an undisclosed amount. Qualcomm said the sale would result in a onetime pretax charge of roughly $30 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2000.
The deal calls for Kyocera to acquire Qualcomm's wireless phone businesses that uses
Code Division Multiple Access
as well as its phone inventory, manufacturing equipment and customer orders. Kyocera also entered a five-year agreement to buy Qualcomm's CDMA chipsets and system software. The deal is set for completion by the end of February 2000.
said it has agreed to partnerships with
to modernize Swiss telecommunications. Siemens and Cisco are set to begin work as early as January.
said it holds the right to up its $1.9 billion offer for Ireland's
Esat Telecom Group
, but said it is not currently considering an increase. Yesterday, Telenor raised its offer to Esat by $300 million.
said a Delaware state court has set a Jan.10 court date to review its motion to block
attempt to replace Warner-Lambert's board. The court date marks a victory for Warner-Lambert in the heated merger battle with Pfizer. The battle began after Pfizer launched a hostile bid for Warner-Lambert despite its plans to link with
American Home Products
CEO Chris Gent said that the takeover bid for
should be considered final, and there are no plans to launch a sweetened offer. Gent said that only a competing bid from another company would prompt Vodafone to consider upping its bid.
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
Earnings estimates from First Call/Thomson Financial; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified.
posted first-quarter earnings of $1.19 a share after yesterday's close, beating the 23-analyst estimate of 85 cents and the year-ago 19-cent loss.
said its same-store sales for the holiday shopping season so far have reached "double-digit" growth. Last year, December sales rose 8%. The company's CEO Richard Thalheimer said that Web sales have risen six-fold in the period.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
upped its rating on
to outperform from neutral and set a price target of $48.
upped shares of
to a near-term accumulate from a neutral.
Warburg Dillon Read
upped its rating on
to a buy and set a price target of $31.
Credit Suisse First Boston
rolled out coverage of
with a hold rating.
initiated coverage of
with an attractive rating and set a price target of $15.
Merrill Lynch raised its rating on
to a near-term buy from an accumulate.
has brought a lawsuit against its competitor
, claiming that the company infringed upon a patent agreement and committed fraud by moving the patents to a shell company, according to
The Wall Street Journal
reported that EMC said the proceedings were frivolous and that it had fulfilled the agreement.
said after yesterday's close that it has tapped company executive John Connors as its new CFO. Connors is replacing
, who stepped down from the role to accept the CEO position at Vancouver-based
This morning, Credit Suisse First Boston maintained its strong buy rating on the stock, sating it does feel Maffei resignation would not have "any meaningful impact" on the company.
For more on the changing of the financial guard at Microsoft, take a look at the
story written last evening by