Market Looking Strong in Early Action

Equity indices, led by Frankfurt's Xetra Dax, are skyrocketing in Europe.
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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

E*Trade

(EGRP)

.

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

Cantor Fitzgerald

. "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

S&P 500

futures were up 7.5 to 1467.6, about 10.1 points above

fair value and indicating a strong open for stocks. The

Nasdaq 100

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

Federal Reserve

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.

London's

FTSE

was 61.7 higher, or 0.9%, to 6790.3, while the Paris

CAC

was up 123.97, or 2.2%, to 5745.26.

In Frankfurt, the

Xetra Dax

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

Gerhard Schroeder

unveiled a tax plan that includes the elimination of taxes on asset sales by companies. German financial services firms like

Allianz

and

Deutsche Bank

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.

Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

, one of the few major world indices that didn't mount a huge rally on the heels of the

Federal Reserve's

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

By

Tara Murphy

Staff Reporter

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Eygpt-based

EFG-Hermes Holdings

said that

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

affiliate

Citicorp International Finance Corporation

has agreed to take a 20% stake in the company. The interest is valued at roughly $40 million.

This year's

Nasdaq

star,

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

, announced after yesterday's close that Japan-based

Kyocera

(KYO)

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.

Swisscom

(SCM) - Get Report

said it has agreed to partnerships with

Siemens

and

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

to modernize Swiss telecommunications. Siemens and Cisco are set to begin work as early as January.

Norway-based

Telenor

said it holds the right to up its $1.9 billion offer for Ireland's

Esat Telecom Group

(ESAT)

, but said it is not currently considering an increase. Yesterday, Telenor raised its offer to Esat by $300 million.

Warner-Lambert

(WLA)

said a Delaware state court has set a Jan.10 court date to review its motion to block

Pfizer's

(PFE) - Get Report

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

(AHP)

..

Vodafone Airtouch

(VOD) - Get Report

CEO Chris Gent said that the takeover bid for

Mannesmann

(MNNSY)

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.

)

Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Report

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.

Sharper Image

(SHRP)

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.

Analyst actions

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

upped its rating on

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

to outperform from neutral and set a price target of $48.

Merrill Lynch

upped shares of

Inktomi

(INKT)

to a near-term accumulate from a neutral.

Warburg Dillon Read

upped its rating on

Mylan Laboratories

(MYL) - Get Report

to a buy and set a price target of $31.

Credit Suisse First Boston

rolled out coverage of

Rockwell International

(ROK) - Get Report

with a hold rating.

PaineWebber

initiated coverage of

Semco Energy

(SMGS)

with an attractive rating and set a price target of $15.

Merrill Lynch raised its rating on

Tandy

(TAN) - Get Report

to a near-term buy from an accumulate.

Miscellany

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

has brought a lawsuit against its competitor

EMC

(EMC)

, 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

.

The Journal

reported that EMC said the proceedings were frivolous and that it had fulfilled the agreement.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

said after yesterday's close that it has tapped company executive John Connors as its new CFO. Connors is replacing

Greg Maffei

, who stepped down from the role to accept the CEO position at Vancouver-based

Worldwide Fiber

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

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom

--

Tara Murphy