For a market mired in a trading range for over a month now, yesterday's action did little to persuade investors that stocks are ready to get out of the rut.
Sure, a couple of the major indices were higher, but not in a very convincing fashion. Even in
action, advancers beat decliners. It was not the kind of action that makes people want to wake up the next morning and buy. But neither, apparently, was it the kind that makes them anxious to sell.
"It looks like we're going to open up relatively flat," said Bill Meehan, market analyst at
. Tech stocks, however, particularly the heavily capitalized issues that have dominated the market over the last few months, may again outperform the broader market. Today,
annual technology conference begins, and leading off the four-day affair will be some of the heaviest hitters.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we see with the Goldman Sachs conference some more firmness in the mega-cap tech group," said the bearish Meehan. "I still think there's a lot of danger in the maket and in techs in particular, so I'd use any strength as an opportunity to lighten up."
Others, however, are impressed by the market's ability to hang in there despite a slew of negatives. Todd Clark, head of listed trading at
, points out that with a number of high-profile strategists making negative comments recently and losses in the overseas markets, it means something for stocks to come out of the gate relatively flat. He was chalking a lot of that up to the news that
announcement that it will buy
in a stock swap.
"I think this Lycos deal is going to keep things together and keep the Internet stocks from going down too much," said Clark. "That looks like it's overshadowing some of the negative comments from these strategists."
At 9 a.m. EST, the
futures were up 0.3, about 1 below fair value and indicating weakness at the open. Treasuries were gaining on hopes that the supply problems in Japan's bond market may be at least partly alleviated. The 30-year was up 17/32 to 99 5/32, dropping the yield to 5.31%.
Tokyo stocks traded lower as investors fretted over whether the
Bank of Japan
will move to shore up the Japanese government bond market. Though BOJ governor
said today that he would not expand bond-buying operations, there's heavy speculation that the central bank will do just that. So while stocks traded down -- the
dropped 89.83 to 13,902.66 -- the benchmark bond rose more than a point, dropping the yield to 1.985%.
A late-day spurt of futures buying sent Hong Kong stocks into the positive territory. The
hopped 104.89 to 9244.49.
Elsewhere in Asia, Korean stocks tumbled on the back of a selloff in the bond market. The
dropped 22, or 4%, to 523.38.
European bourses were under pressure. In Germany, the
was down 58.84, or 1.2%, to 4968.38. In Paris, the
was off 46.78, or 1.1%, to 4107.24. In London, the
was down 13 to 5821.9.
Tuesday's Wake-Up Watchlist
agreed to buy
in a deal linking the Internet portal with USA Networks'
Home Shopping Network
Internet Shopping Network/First Auction
units. The new company will be called
USA/Lycos Interactive Networks
. USA Chairman and CEO Barry Diller will become the chairman of USA/Lycos, while Lycos CEO Robert Davis will become president and chief executive and will join its board.
agreed to sell its clinical laboratory operations to
, a provider of diagnostic testing, information and services, for about $1.3 billion in cash and stock. Under the deal, SmithKline Beecham will receive about $1 billion in cash and 12.6 million newly issued Quest Diagnostic shares. At the deal's closing, SmithKline Beecham will hold 29.5% of of Quest Diagnostics.
will buy SmithKline Beecham unit
Diversified Pharmaceutical Services
for $700 million in cash.
In other news (earnings estimates are from
, the Dutch semiconductor equipment maker, said Willem Maris, the company's chief executive, will retire on Jan. 1.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
to outperform from neutral.
reported fourth-quarter earnings of 25 cents a share, beating the seven analyst view of 21 cents and up from the year-ago 15 cents.
posted fourth-quarter earnings of 80 cents a share before items, beating the six-analyst consensus of 78 cents and up from the year-ago 62 cents.
chief executive, said in an interview on German television that the bank's acquisition of
would not make economic sense were it delayed too long,
posted fourth-quarter earnings of 74 cents a share, beating the 13-analyst estimate by a penny and up from the year ago 73 cents.
posted fourth-quarter earnings of 34 cents, in line with the 17-analyst view and up from the year-ago 29 cents.
said funds from operations in the fourth quarter came in at 43 cents, in line with the nine-analyst estimate but down from the year-ago 57 cents.
said shareholders sold 4.6 million Class A common shares at 170. The shares were held by
Science Applications International
and certain other selling stockholders.
posted fourth-quarter earnings of 22 cents a share, excluding charges, shy of the 12-analyst view and up from the year-ago earnings of 21 cents.
Today in New York,
Goldman Sachs' 13th Annual Technology Investment Symposium
gets under way. At 10 a.m. EST, Michael Dell of
will give a keynote address.
At 5:30 p.m. EST, the other keynote address of the day is slated to be delivered by Alan Kay of
wrote a story previewing the conference, including a schedule of events,
Today's tech heavyweights appearing include: Dell,
, to name just a few.