Market Ready for Volatile Swings in Light Volume

Stocks look like they'll make a sideways move early on today.
Author:
Publish date:

Stocks are set to edge higher in the early going this morning.

Investors have been on the sidelines for what seems like forever. And with preannouncement season still a couple weeks away, they won't have too much trouble staying there a little while longer. Expect another day of choppy trading and volatile swings in light volume today.

At 9:05 a.m. EDT, the

S&P 500

futures were up 1.8, about 2 points above fair value and indicating a modestly higher open. Premarket activity lately suggested that tech stocks were set to bounce back a bit from Friday's selloff, though it's hard to say how long that technical rebound will hold.

"I don't see an awful lot to sustain either a rally or a selloff until we get more visibility on whether the economy's as strong as people are concerned it is," said Jim Volk, co-director of institutional trading

D.A. Davidson

. "We continue to be victims of the last sale."

Things may heat up as the week progresses, though. Tomorrow brings the first economic data for August, the

Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index

. That will whet appetites for Wednesday's

National Association of Purchasing Managers

index and Friday's employment report.

The 30-year Treasury was up 1/32 to 102 1/32, its yield edging up to 5.978%.

The big Asian markets advanced strongly overnight. In Tokyo, stocks bounced back on modest volume after four consecutive days of broad declines. The

Nikkei

climbed 319.60, or 1.8%, to 17,918.87. Stocks were buoyed by expectations of some imminent institutional demand:

Morgan Stanley Capital International

will rebalance its benchmark indices after the close tomorrow, when several Japanese investment trust firms are scheduled to launch new funds.

The buying pressure helped strengthen the yen against the dollar in Tokyo trading. The greenback was lately quoted at 111.06 yen.

Meanwhile, those waiting for an uptick in Japanese consumer demand were disappointed by some unimpressive retail sales numbers: July retail sales fell 2.5% on a year-over-year basis after sinking 2.2% last month.

Friday's stronger-than-expected gross domestic product figures sent Hong Kong equities flying, the

Hang Seng

adding 305.53, or 2.3%, to 13,688.66. The government reported Friday that second-quarter GDP rose 0.5% from the previous year, confounding expectations for a sixth straight quarter of contraction.

European markets were mixed toward midday, with Frankfurt's

Xetra Dax

off 30.87 to 5389.49. After opening lower, the Paris

CAC

was up 5.79 to 4648.50 amid news that French retailer

Carrefour

is buying rival

Promodes

for about $16.3 billion in stock.

London markets were closed for a summer bank holiday.

Monday's Wake-Up Watchlist

By

Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

The

European Commission

has decided to open an in-depth investigation into

AlliedSignal's

(ALD)

acquisition of

Honeywell

(HON) - Get Report

. The commission said its initial investigation "has shown that the merger may lead to the creation or strengthening of a dominant position in one or more markets for avionics products, but this has to be subject to further investigation."

Telephone carrier

McLeodUSA

(MCLD)

said

Forstmann Little

, a private investment concern, is investing $1 billion for a 12% stake in the company.

Phelps Dodge

(PD) - Get Report

on Friday announced plans to launch a $2.5 billion hostile bid for

Cyprus Amax Minerals

(CYM)

and

Asarco

(AR) - Get Report

. Cyprus and Asarco are planning their own merger.

Miscellany

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

announced two new callings plans,

AT&T One Rate 7 Cents

and

AT&T Family Plan

. The first plan allows consumers make interstate long-distance calls from home anytime for 7 cents a minute with a monthly fee of $4.95 if the company also handles their residential local calls. If not, the monthly fee is $5.95. AT&T Family Plan is a wireless plan.

Leaders of

Boeing's

(BA) - Get Report

largest union urged rank and file members to accept a new three-year contract offer from Boeing. Members of the union will vote on the proposed contract Wednesday.

Holly Hegeman

recently wrote a

piece on the subject.

Shorewood Packaging

(SWD)

is closing its Stanley, N.C., packaging plant by the end of November. The company expects the move to save $3 million.

Analyst actions

PaineWebber

initiated coverage of

Quotesmith.com

(QUOT) - Get Report

with a buy rating. PaineWebber was an underwriter on Quotesmith's IPO.

Merrill Lynch

initiated coverage of

Internet Capital Group

(ICGE)

with a near-term accumulate rating, a long-term buy rating and a two-year price target of 125. Merrill was lead underwriter on the company's IPO.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

cut its full-year 1999 and 2000 earnings estimates on

Pepsico

(PEP) - Get Report

to $1.20 from $1.22, and to $1.37 from $1.38, respectively.

Merrill Lynch initiated coverage of

Pivotal

(PVTL) - Get Report

with a near-term accumulate and a long-term buy rating. Merrill was the lead underwriter on Pivotal's IPO.