Sprint to End of Year Set to Continue

In the last week of the year, Wall Street is in the mood to celebrate.
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It is the last week of the last month of the last year of the millennium, and Wall Street is in a celebratory mood.

At 9 a.m. EDT, the

S&P 500

futures were up 3.5, nearly 8 above fair value and indicating a bounce at the open. Investors again expected tech stocks to drive the rally -- the

Nasdaq 100

futures were up 26.

Wall Street will be wondering two things today: How far can this rally go without stopping and when will the market stop logging such impressive volume? Going into last week, investors expected both to fall off. The two are not unrelated -- the big trading in the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, relative to the

New York Stock Exchange

, suggests that it is the individual investor that is powering this move.

"That section of the investing community is getting bigger and bigger," said Paul Rich, a trader at

BT Brokerage

. "And on days when the institutional traders are off, their bias is felt much more."

There is little news to distract investors from gazing amazedly upon the rally this morning -- few research notes, very little company news. The bond market -- whose recent losses might have hurt stocks in other times -- was holding steady. The 30-year Treasury was off 2/32 to 95 5/32, dropping the yield to 6.495%. If the yield pops above 6.5%, it may be enough to make some stock investors a little nervous.

Japanese stocks gave back a bit of last week's high-tech inspired rally in low volume. The

Nikkei

slipped 38.05 to 18,546.90. Today was the last day of settlement before year-end, and the year change did prompt some position unwinding.

After the close,

Sony

(SNE) - Get Report

announced a stock split, effective May 19 -- making investors who took profits in the high-flying issue today wish they hadn't.

"The stock split proves Sony, and investors, believe the company is on the right track," said one Tokyo trader. "There should be more firms like Sony emerging as traditional manufacturers and services start shifting operations into the Internet zone."

Hong Kong's stock market was closed.

European bourses were doing well heading into the continental midday.

Particularly in Frankfurt, where investors remain exuberant over the government's plan to eliminate taxes on stock sales between companies. The

Xetra Dax

was lately up 95.16, or 1.4%, to 6877.55. Banks, which have huge capital gains locked up in stocks, led the advancers.

Deutsche Bank

was lately up 9%.

Paris'

CAC

was up 19.08 to 5871.58.

Credit Lyonnais

was a big winner there, up on rumors that it had found a merger partner.

Some European insurers, however, were not participating in the rallies. Investors expect the windstorms that swept through France, Switzerland and Germany will take some heft off profits.

London's stock market was closed.

Monday's Wake-Up Watchlist

By

Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

priceline.com

(PCLN)

is preparing to launch a Web site called

Perfect YardSale

, which will match up buyers and sellers of goods,

The Wall Street Journal

reported.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Lyondell Chemical

(LYO)

said income from

Equistar Chemicals

, of which it has a 41% interest, will be sliced by $39 million in the fourth quarter as a result of a $95 million pretax charge taken by Equistar.

Millennium Chemicals

(MCH)

and

Occidental Petroleum

(OXY) - Get Report

each have a 29.5% interest in Equistar.

Analyst actions

Credit Suisse First Boston

initiated coverage of

Retek

(RETK)

with a strong buy rating.

Miscellany

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

Thursday began a legal challenge to the

Federal Communications Commission's

decision allowing

Bell Atlantic

(BEL)

to offer long-distance phone service in New York.

Prison Realty Trust's

(PZN) - Get Report

board said an investor group will purchase $315 million in securities and commit to purchase an additional $35 million in securities in a newly formed company that would be created via the merger of Prison Realty and the companies operating under the name

Corrections Corporation of America

.