Stocks Look Higher as Japan Jumps Again

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Asia rallied, Europe is higher, word that troubled Korea is on the verge accepting an

IMF

bailout package, and the futures are giving a good read on the open. It looks like it's going to be a good morning for stocks.

The action will likely be fast and furious at the open -- today is double witching, the expiration of certain options and index options contracts. That could mean some pretty big volume in the first hour.

"Were going to have some follow through from the expiration here and the strong world markets here," says Todd Clark senior vice president of U.S. equity trading at

HSBC Securities

. "It looks like they're going to gap up to the 0ctober 23 open (7919 on the

Dow

) and then run into some pressure."

At 9 a.m., the

S&P 500

futures are up 4.00, indicating a hop at the open. With trouble in the world easing, money is getting pulled out of the Treasury market. The long bond is off 9/32 at 100 21/32, lifting the yield to 6.08%.

More good feelings out of Japan lies at the root of today's move higher. Word that

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto

instructed his party's secretary-general to look into using public funds to bail out Japan's troubled banks (at the behest of former

Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa

), sent Tokyo stocks higher. Adding a little more to the market's push, investors who have been short Japan, faced with the prospect that Japanese government actually might do something about the troubled economy, have been covering. The

Nikkei

climbed 413.09 to close at 16,721.58.

With worries about currency problems waning on expectation that Korea will accept an IMF rescue package, Hong Kong stocks surged. The

Hang Seng

climbed 497.52 to close at 10,548.20.

European stocks, too, are higher. In Germany, the

Dax

closed at 3959.69, up 43.75. In London, the

FTSE

is up 36.00 at 4944.40. Still, traders there are timid.

"I don't think that there's been a global change in sentiment," says David Smith, managing director of

Cantor Fitzgerald's

London office. "The jury is still out on that one." While Europe is up, says Smith, conviction is lacking. "European markets are unconvincingly higher. The market feels all right, but there's no oomph to it at all here."

Meditrust

(MT) - Get Report

is in talks to buy

Interstate Hotels

(IHC) - Get Report

for $1.3 billion, according to

The Wall Street Journal

. Meditrust, like

Starwood

(HOT)

, is one of only four REIT's that have the "paired-share" structure that lets it operate businesses and keep its tax status as a REIT.

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

looks set to head higher on the open. IBM's board confirmed that CEO Louis Gerstner will stay on for at least five more years, when he turns 60. Big Lou will get 2 million share options and other goodies for his trouble.

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

, taken out to the woodshed in

Reuters Instinet

trading despite reporting better-than-expected earnings last night, is looking better this morning. Before the open, AMAT is trading at 38 3/4, up 1 1/8.