Stocks Look Firm on the Open

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It's hard to figure out if it's a good idea to go long or short into the weekend.

On the one hand, there's the meeting among

Federal Reserve

Chairman

Alan Greenspan

, Treasury Secretary

Robert Rubin

and Japanese Finance Minister

Kiichi Miyazawa

this afternoon in San Francisco. Expectations aren't for anything grand, but there is the possibility that the gathering will mark the beginning of global healing.

On the other hand, with the messy global situation, it's hard to say what kind of new crisis the world will deal traders when they come back in on Tuesday.

At desks on Wall Street, however, what will come next week is of only secondary importance. It's been a bad week and traders just want to get through the day. They just want to go home.

"It's Friday," said one trader. "People are tired. I don't see any urgency to do a whole bunch today. With the long weekend coming up, I think people will go home and try to figure out what to do."

Stocks look good on the open. At 9 a.m. EDT, the

S&P 500

futures were up 3.4, about 5.2 above fair value and indicating a positive open.

With stocks looking firmer, the Treasury market has come under some pressure. The long bond was down 13/32 to 102 18/32, lifting the yield to 5.33%, though it was little affected by the jobs report.

The monthly jobs report came in basically in line with expectations, with the economy adding 365,000 jobs in August, leaving the unemployment rate at 4.5%. Economists had expected 370,000 new jobs and a jobless-rate drop to 4.4%.

Traders are more interested in what will happen at the meeting in San Francisco, and in a speech that Greenspan will give this afternoon in Berkeley. It will be the first chance for the chairman to offer his views on the deepening global economic crisis.

Another tough day in Tokyo. The failure of

Toa Steel

and yesterday's late drop on Wall Street conspired to send the

Nikkei

down 218.33, or 1.5%, to 14,042.91. Besides steel makers, bank shares were also under heavy pressure as reform bills continue to be debated in the

Diet

.

In Hong Kong, the

Hang Seng

added 169.88, or 2.3%, to 7488.47 -- this despite the news that

Moody's

put the foreign currency ceiling of both Hong Kong and China under review for a possible downgrade. Again, short-covering, sparked by new short-selling regulations announced this week, supported the market. With the yen's recovery, worries about a yuan devaluation have subsided recently. China-related stocks were strong.

Europe's major indices were all solidly higher. In Frankfurt the

Dax

was up 90.77, or 1.9%, to 4902.95. In Paris, the

CAC

was up 54.20, or 1.5%, to 3700.65. In London, the

FTSE

was up 48.5, or 1%, to 5167.2.

Friday's Wake-Up Watchlist

By

Brian Louis
Staff Reporter

  • Avid Technology (AVID) - Get Report and Tektronix (TEK) set a strategic alliance to help broadcasters make the move from analog to digital production.
  • The Food and Drug Administration asked AutoCyte (ACYT) for additional information to support its premarket approval application for its Prep product. Prep is designed to produce liquid-based preparation Pap smears.
  • Bellwether Exploration set a $5 million stock-buyback program.
  • Circuit City Group (CC) - Get Report, an electronics retailer, said August sales rose 15%, while same-store sales rose 4% for the month. CarMax Group (KMX) - Get Report, Circuit City's car-retailing unit, showed an overall sales increase of 72% in August, while same-store sales for August fell 6%.
  • Hewlett-Packard (HWP) , Compaq (CPQ) and IBM (IBM) - Get Report are challenging Intel's (INTC) - Get Report influence over a key piece of technology within the personal computer, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • A federal judge ordered Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report to turn over new materials that government lawyers contend could buoy the feds' antitrust case against the software giant.
  • The Justice Department has filed a sealed court brief arguing that lawyers for Brown & Williamson Tobacco, a unit of B.A.T Industries (BTI) - Get Report, even though its price-to-earnings ratio is at 8.9, the lowest of any big bank, "because the near-term outlook is so unpredictable," according to today's "Heard on the Street" column in the Journal. So far, Bankers Trust is the only big financial institution in the U.S. that expects to be in the red at the end of this quarter because of global financial turmoil.