Despite the disappointment engendered by yesterday afternoon's selling, to look at the
futures, stocks look like they will edge higher at the open.
At 9 a.m. EST, they were up 0.5. That puts them nearly 3 points above fair value, indicating a positive open. But this is not enough to make people particularly happy about the stock market.
"Why are the futures up? I don't know," said Todd Clark, head of listed trading at
. "Yesterday's reversal -- I didn't like it. And I don't like the action in tech stocks."
Yesterday, Clark points out, was the second time in a week the market produced what technicians call an outside day -- a day when stocks made higher highs and lower lows than the previous day. It doesn't help that on both days -- yesterday and last Wednesday -- stocks closed on the low side. "That suggests that market has some more risk to it," he said.
Moreover, the market is again nearing some major support levels -- 1205 to 1211, if you're looking at the S&P.
"We're at a pretty important juncture here," said Clark. "The market is going to have to show us something to hold together."
At least the Treasury market looks like it's reached some modicum of stability. The 30-year was up 1/32 to 94 23/32, putting the yield at 5.61%.
Tokyo stocks took back most of yesterday's losses, with nearly half the gains made in the last 15 minutes of trading. That was when the
Bank of Japan
let loose another raft of cash into the interbank lending market, pushing the key uncollateralized overnight call rate -- what banks charge each other for unsecured short-term loans -- to a new low of 0.02%. It marked the sixth day that the BOJ pushed excess reserves in the money market higher.
The dollar hopped on the news, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year government bond slipped 0.115% to 1.69%. Both actions are supportive for stocks. The
ended the day up 249.3, or 1.8%, to 14,170.36.
Hong Kong stocks chopped around a lot as traders hung on Financial Secretary
every word as he gave his annual budget speech. Tsang said that the government would cut its stock holdings and up the tax on property sales (negatives for stocks), but he confirmed that the government is in talks with
on launching a theme park (stock supportive). The
ended the day up 8.82 to 9,922.40.
A mixed picture in Europe. In Frankfurt, the
was off 44.08 to 4759.94. In Paris, the
was up 8.37 to 4057. Though there was some disappointment in London that the
Bank of England
did not cut rates this morning, traders appear to have gotten over it. The
was up 34.1 to 6095.4.
Wednesday's Wake-Up Watchlist
is in merger negotiations with
New York Times
reported, citing execs who say they've been briefed on the talks. Robert Shapiro, Monsanto's chief executive, has been searching for a way for Monsanto to be acquired by DuPont and still retain its special character and habits with its own compensation and incentive programs and possibly its own stock, the
reported, citing the executives. The execs said the talks are still at a preliminary stage and may go no further, the
is expected to announce the total or partial disposal of its international tobacco business within 10 days, which could value the division at about $6 billion, the
for $885 million in cash and stock. Jones Apparel will also assume $515 million in Nine West debt.
, a subsidiary of
, and mutual fund giant
announced a joint venture to provide new variable insurance products. Under the agreement, Allstate Life and Putnam will focus on jointly creating and distributing a co-branded variable insurance product line.
In other news (earnings estimates are from
its Focus One stock of the week and put a price target of 50 on the stock. It closed yesterday at 36 11/16.
sees fourth-quarter revenue of $33 million, up 307% from the year-ago period and up 40% vs. the third quarter.
plans to introduce today an online megastore where it will sell its personal computers along with hawking 30,000 electronics products from other firms.
February same-store sales rose 11%.
posted fourth-quarter earnings of 65 cents a share, beating the 16-analyst view of 61 cents and up from the year ago 50 cents. Kmart's February same-store sales also rose 5.8%.
posted first-quarter earnings of 40 cents, excluding charges, shy of the three-analyst view of 42 cents and up from the year-ago 37 cents.
said it acquired a 25% equity stake in
, parent of
Kingland Systems Corporation
, a developer of Internet-based solutions for the financial-services industry. Terms weren't disclosed. Mason City, Iowa-based Kingland, develops and markets a range of browser-based solutions for the brokerage, insurance and banking industries.
is preparing a full-blown proxy fight for
if the semiconductor maker doesn't enter into negotiations,
The Wall Street Journal
reported, citing people familiar with the matter. On Friday, Philips made an unsolicited offer for VLSI totaling $777 million, or $17 a share.
warned it sees third-quarter operating earnings of 23 cents a share because of seasonal weakness and a slowdown in U.S. and Latin American markets. The 26-analyst outlook called for the network equipment maker to earn 36 cents.
posted fourth-quarter earnings of $1.49 a share, beating the 16-analyst view of $1.42 and up from the year-ago $1.17.
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