Monday: Strong Opening Expected

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By Justin Lahart
Staff Reporter

Traders see a positive tone to the market this morning.

"It looks like a steady open," says Larry Wachtel of

Prudential Securities

. "They should follow through somewhat from Friday."

But through the day stocks could face some pressure on the upside from nervousness about this week's slew of economic data, beginning with April

retail sales

Tuesday morning. And, of course, next week's FOMC meeting looms large.

The

S&P 500

futures, up 0.50 and well above fair value, are indicating a strong open for the stock market today. The 30-year Treasury bond is flat at 96 21/32, with the yield at 6.89%.

Whoppers and Stout.

Grand Metropolitan

(GRM)

will acquire

Smith's Food & Drug Centers

(SFD)

in a stock deal worth $2 billion dollars. Smith's shareholders will receive 1.05 shares of Fred Meyer stock for each share of Smith stock.

Boston Chicken

(BOST)

reported first-quarter earnings of 32 cents a share, in line with

First Call

consensus estimates.

The dollar's woes weren't enough to keep Japanese stocks down today. Surprisingly, export-oriented stocks, led by

Sony

, climbed higher -- does the Japanese stock market know something about dollar/yen valuations that

The Wall Street Journal

doesn't? The

Nikkei

climbed 340.73 to close at 20,143.51.

Hong Kong stocks hit another record today, once again with chatter that mainland companies are eyeing stakes in

Hongkong Telecom

. The

Hang Seng

climbed 57.00 to close at 13,987.80.

German stocks don't seem to be having too many problems with dollar difficulties, either. The

Dax

closed up 12.96 at 3575.37.

The Grand Met/Guinness merger hasn't added much froth to Britain's stock market. The

FTSE

is flat, up 3.30 at 4634.20.