Merger Monday Arrives, Just a Few Days Late - TheStreet

If you say it with a lisp, "Takeout Thursday" alliterates just as well as "Merger Monday."

With the market closed tomorrow for Good Friday and a lot of people on Wall Street taking the day off for Passover, expectations were that the action in the stock market would be muted today. Instead it's looking like the kind of day that's got broadcasters desperately looking for an anchor who sounds like

King George

. There are deals galore.

BP Amoco

(BPA)

confirmed it will buy

Atlantic Richfield

(ARC) - Get Report

,

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

said it will buy

King World Productions

(KWP)

and

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

will buy

broadcast.com

(BCST)

.

All those are setting stocks up to run higher this morning. At 9 a.m. EST, the

S&P 500

futures were up 9.3, more than 6 above fair value and indicating a positive open. For some, that's a surprising amount of strength.

"There's not much out there away from the merger announcements," said Todd Clark, head of listed trading at

Charles Schwab

. "I'm a little surprised they've got them up this much."

Clark speculated that a big part of why today looks higher is that yesterday's selling went too far. End-of-quarter moves, continued hangover from

Coca-Cola's

(KO) - Get Report

and

Philip Morris'

(MO) - Get Report

bad news and position-squaring ahead of a long weekend took stocks lower than they might have gone. "I think we're just kind of undoing what was a little overdone yesterday," said Clark.

But the morning move may not last. Clark is among those surprised that the market is showing such a muted reaction to the continued escalation in the Kosovo crisis, and yesterday's hostage-taking. Investors may do a little insurance selling ahead of the three-day weekend. Moreover, though the stock market is closed tomorrow, the

Labor Department

will release the March

jobs report

and the bond market will be open. That creates a lot of uncertainty.

The 30-year Treasury was up off 5/32 to 94 13/32, lifting the yield to 5.64%.

Japanese stocks started the new fiscal year with a bang. Domestic investors, who had been shying from big-caps over concerns about cross-shareholding pressure (though foreign investors were buying), came into the market in force. The

Nikkei

added 490.97, or 3.1%, to 16327.56.

Those gains in Japan, and buying in the futures market, helped propel Hong Kong stocks higher. The

Hang Seng

climbed 130.78, or 1.2%, to 11,072.98.

Europe's major Continental markets clambered into the positive column after early weakness. In Frankfurt, the

Dax

was up 22.45 to 4906.65. In Paris, the

CAC

was up 38.17 to 4236.05.

London stocks were higher, led by

Glaxo Wellcome

(GLX)

, up again on those perennial merger hopes. The

FTSE

was up 98.4, or 1.6%, to 6393.7.

Thursday's Wake-Up Watchlist

By

Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

  • BP Amoco agreed to buy Arco for $26.8 billion in stock, or 0.82 BP Amoco American depositary share for each Arco share. With the takeover, BP Amoco will gain entry to West Coast retail markets where Arco has a leading market share in five states and owns two refineries, BP Amoco said.
  • Yahoo! is buying broadcast.com. Under terms of the deal, Yahoo! will issue 0.7722 share for each broadcast.com share. Yahoo! expects to take a charge in the third quarter to cover acquisition expenses. TheStreet.com wrote about what the takeover would mean for Yahoo! in a story last night.
  • CBS is buying King World, distributor of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and Hollywood Squares, in a stock swap valued at $2.5 billion. Under the terms of the deal, King World shareholders will receive 0.81 CBS share for each King World share. CBS said the acquisition of King World will be immediately accretive to cash flow. The deal is expected to close in the middle of the year.
  • Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette upgraded Colgate-Palmolive (CL) - Get Report and Avon (AVP) - Get Report to buy from market perform.
  • The State Corporation Commission of Virginia threw a wrench into Bell Atlantic's (BEL) proposed $53 billion takeover of GTE (GTE) - Get Report yesterday when it dismissed the companies' merger application and gave them 180 days to answer further questions about the transaction and reapply, The Washington Post reported. A Bell Atlantic spokesman was quoted in the article as saying: "We don't see this as a major bump in the road."