Quarter's End Brings Signs of an Early Rally

Dow 10,000 may not be an issue this morning.
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They've backed. They've filled. Now stocks look like they're ready to test themselves against that five-digit handle on the

Dow

that's been so problematic.

"The market has really firmed up," said Doug Myers, vice president of equity trading at

Interstate/Johnson Lane

. "With the exception or the tobacco stocks, I think we're going to have a good, broad-based opening. The tobacco stocks are really reeling from the

Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Report

thing." In a court case yesterday, an Oregon jury awarded over $80 million to the family of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer. Big Mo got slammed on the news, and with analysts weighing in today, it looks weak again.

Part of the bid that's come into the market today may have something to do with end-of-quarter shenanigans. Myers explained, "A lot of portfolio managers will be sitting on some cash, and at the end of the quarter, they don't want to show that they have that cash." So they buy today to make it look like they were fully invested.

Today is the last day of the quarter, and as usual, a bid has come into the market. At 8:10 a.m. EST, the

S&P 500

futures were up 4.8, more than 9 above fair value and indicating jump at the open. The lofty 10,000 level may not prove much of a barrier in the early going today.

Treasuries were lower, with the 30-year off 8/32 to 94 31/32, lifting the yield to 5.60%.

Tokyo's

Nikkei

finished the Japanese fiscal year on a down note, dropping 22.53 to 15,836.59. That put it about 4% below last year's close of 16,537. Looked at in dollar terms, a U.S. investor would have actually made some in the Nikkei last year -- about 6%.

The real question is what happens next. Conventional wisdom says that Japanese stocks go higher in the fiscal fourth quarter and fall in the first. If Tokyo can make gains in the next few weeks, more people may become convinced the rally in Japan has legs.

Hong Kong stocks were flat in a lackluster session ahead of the long Easter holiday. The

Hang Seng

climbed 1.99 to 10,942.20.

With the U.S. set to move higher, Europe's major indices were all up. In Frankfurt, the

Dax

was 24.62 to 4881.46. In Paris, the

CAC

was up 40.04, or 1%, to 4182.02. And in London, the

FTSE

was up 81.5, or 1.3%, to 6345.6.

Wednesday's Wake-Up Watchlist

By

Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

  • A jury in Oregon ordered Philip Morris to pay more than $80 million to the family of a smoker who died of cancer. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter downgraded Big Mo to neutral from strong buy.
  • BP Amoco's (BPA) board approved an agreement to buy Atlantic Richfield (ARC) - Get Report for as much as $27 billion in a deal expected to be announced tomorrow, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the negotiations. The newspaper reported that Arco's board still needs to vote on the deal, which is expected to value Arco at a 25% to 30% premium over its stock price before the talks became public.
  • Revenue at DaimlerChrysler (DCX) in the first two months of the year rose 6% from a year ago. The company expects revenue for 1999 to jump to 137 billion euros from 131.8 billion in 1998. By 2001, the company projects revenue will reach 153 billion euros. In other news (earnings estimates are from First Call):
  • America West Holdings (AWA) expects first-quarter earnings to come in at 60 cents a share. The eight-analyst estimate currently calls for America West to post earnings of 53 cents a share. In the year-ago period, America West earned 53 cents a share.
  • Emmis Communications (EMMS) - Get Report posted a fourth-quarter loss of 38 cents, wider than the two-analyst estimate of a loss of 23 cents.
  • Morgan Stanley upgraded LSI Logic (LSI) - Get Report to strong buy from outperform.
  • PeopleSoft (PSFT) said first-quarter operating profit margins, excluding expected one-time charges, are expected to be lower than it previously forecast due to lower-than-expected revenues.
  • Pepsi Bottling Group's (PBG:NYSE) 100-million-share IPO was priced yesterday at 23, the low end of the offering's range of 23 to 26. It will begin trading today on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • Merrill Lynch named Seagram (VO) - Get Report its Focus One stock of the week, CNBC said.
  • Sun Microsystems' (SUNW) - Get Report alliance with America Online (AOL) , which recently acquired Netscape, could saddle AOL with accounting charges, the Heard on the Street column in the Journal reports. According to the article, if regulators conclude that Sun effectively purchased Netscape's corporate software business, AOL could be forced to account for the deal differently and it could incur as much as $9.7 billion in "goodwill" charges -- representing the amount AOL paid for Netscape above the net fair value of the company's assets -- against earnings over a number of years. AOL officials say they're confident they've met the accounting requirements, according to the article.
  • Morgan Stanley upgraded Tech Data (TECD) - Get Report to outperform from neutral.
  • VeriSign (VRSN) - Get Report set a 2-for-1 stock split.
  • Ziff-Davis (ZD) said the 10-million-share IPO of a new series of stock intended to track the performance of ZDNet (ZDZ:NYSE), its Internet business division, was priced at 19. Shares will begin trading on the Big Board today, Ziff-Davis said.