A friendly employment report is hopping up the stock market this morning.
reported payrolls increased by 234,000 jobs in November, slightly higher than the 226,000 predicted by economists in the
poll. The jobless rate stayed steady at 4.1%. Most importantly, hourly wages gained just 0.1%, two-tenths of a point lower than expected.
"The market liked the hourly earnings number," said Dan Mathisson, head stock trader at
D.E. Shaw Securities
. "That's really the most important number, the one people were worried about. So we're seeing the bond market rally, and
is following the bonds."
The long bond surged on the report's release, though it has since retraced nearly half of those gains. At 9 a.m. EST, it was up 16/32 to 97 29/32, putting the yield at 6.281%. At 9:05 a.m., the
futures were up 17.5, about 18 points above fair value and indicating a strong open.
"We're looking up this morning in all the interest rate sensitive areas," Mathisson said. "And the technology rally looks intact."
The jobs report comes at a key time for the market. Notwithstanding the still phenomenal gains in the
largest stocks, the blissful sense prevailing after the last
meeting that the Federal Reserve is out of the picture has started to fade somewhat as market observers turn their eyes to 2000. The long-bond yield has added about a quarter-point in yield since the Fed hiked and adopted a neutral bias. And earlier this week a hawkish
speech by Governor
reminded many of the Nov. 16 Fed
statement on the shrinking pool of available workers.
The large European bourses were flying in early afternoon trading despite the euro's double-dip below parity with the dollar overnight. London's
was up 83.3, or 1.3%, to 6737.0, while the Paris
was 111.46 higher, or 2.1%, to 5465.65. Frankfurt's
was up 116.86, or 2%, to 6054.06.
After having fallen below $1 twice in Asian trading, the euro has firmed marginally, lately trading at $1.0011. In an interview with today's
Wall Street Journal Europe
European Central Bank
said that he doesn't expect intervention on behalf of the euro.
Meanwhile, billionaire banker
was killed in his Monaco apartment in a fire set by two armed intruders. Safra, 68, was in the last stages of
Republic New York
. He owned 29% of Republic.
Tokyo continues to struggle against the strength of the yen, which investors fear will threaten the performance of Japan's export-oriented companies. The
sank 146.77, or 0.8%, to 18,368.14.
Dollar/yen ranged in a narrow band between 102.5 and 102.2 overnight. Finance Minister
played down the chances for coordinated intervention, saying that "it is not so easy to agree and coordinate intervention, so for intervention that is not so large, it is unavoidable that we will take the responsibility to act" alone.
The dollar was lately quoted at 102.35 yen.
Besides the U.S. jobs report, Tokyo markets were dealing with Monday's release of Japan's July-September
gross domestic product
data. The consensus of economists polled by the
Nihon Keizai Shimbun
calls for a contraction of 0.1% from the previous quarter. As usual, that consensus is composed of a wide band of individual forecasts, ranging from a contraction of 0.9% to an expansion of 0.9%. But Takashi Nakanomyo, the Economic Planning Agency's deputy director general, said it "wouldn't be surprising" if GDP contracted.
Seen outside a restaurant in New York City:
Top Five Reasons for the Seattle Protests:
- 5. Someone dropped a Pokemon card
4. It's not a riot - it's a mosh pit
3. Someone ordered a double decaf soy latee with nutmeg and a shot of almond and called it coffee
2. Eddie Vedder was rumored to be pairing up with Jimi Hendrix for a duet
1. The strippers didn't show up for the Microsoft Christmas party
It was a welcome bit of comic relief from the arcana of trade negotiations and definitions of transparency. As he was reiterating the unique position of the President -- which does not constitute a change in U.S. trade negotiations in the
World Trade Organization
-- Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling's phone was ringing. "Ha, that's the President now, making sure I don't misquote him," joked Sperling. "Ah, we all know it's Gene's mother," retorted the normally controlled U.S. Trade Representative
As negotiations on the format and topics for the next round of negotiations continued well into the night, some trade ministers from smaller nations such as Guyana were complaining that their views were being overshadowed by the richer states. Barshefsky, who is also the chair of the Seattle meeting, defended the transparency and inclusiveness of the negotiations. Though she did cause some eyebrows to be raised when she said that if the working groups -- which all 135 member countries can in theory participate in -- did not produce a format soon, she would "then have a more exclusive process. It is my right as the chair, though it is not what I want."
Parliamentarians from Europe adopted a proposal to establish a new WTO body. They hoped a new parliamentary body would help strengthen the accountability and transparency of the WTO. The WTO Director General welcomed the initiative.
In a press statement, the parliamentarians wrote, "In a week in which the WTO meeting has been dominated by street protests, this initiative represents a concerted effort by democratically elected parliamentarians to address the popular anxieties surrounding the WTO and tackle the perceived lack of accountability in international trade matters."
-- Heather Bourbeau
Friday's Wake-Up Watchlist
Republic New York
founder Edmond Safra was killed after hooded attackers, armed with knives, broke into his Monaco apartment and set it on fire. Safra had just agreed to sell his interest in Republic Bank and another company,
for $3 billion. The deal faced delays after a New Jersey money fund manager, who did business through Republic, sparked a probe at the bank after he was charged with scamming investors. In November, Safra agreed to accept $450 million less for his interest.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
said it would agree to sell its interest in its smaller rival
if its $884 million takeover offer is countered by a higher bid. Including debt, the deal is valued at $1.7 billion. NCL Holding said that other firms have expressed interest in the company.
said it has started a $500 million, or $17.25 a share, tender offer for
. Chesapeake had boosted its latest hostile takeover offer by 4%, after Shorewood called its $16.50-a-share bid "grossly inadequate.
The betting among analysts and others is that
will not make a bid for
orange-soda business, the Heard on the Street column in
The Wall Street Journal
said. Last week the French government blocked Pepsi rival
bid to buy Orangina. Pepsi will not discuss its plans, though a spokesman does not rule out the possibility of an offer, the column said.
said after yesterday's close that it will file by Christmas with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
board of directors. Pfizer also said its court date with Warner has been postponed until Jan. 31, but that it still wants the Warner antitakeover provisions lifted. Pfizer is trying to block Warner's proposed union with
American Home Products
, the Japanese investment company, has been in talks to buy a large stake in
, an electronic network for stock trading,
The New York Times
reported, citing people who have been briefed on the talks. The newspaper said Softbank has made a multimillion-dollar offer to buy the stake from
Datek Online Holdings
, which owns the fourth-largest online brokerage in the U.S. and about 85% of Island. However, the talks have broken down, and it's unclear whether a deal will occur.
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
(Earnings estimates are from
First Call/Thomson Financial
said it expects to posted a loss for the fourth quarter. The seven-analyst estimates the company will report a 17-cent profit.
is forecasting a fourth-quarter loss between 27 to 33 cents a share, greatly missing the single-analyst estimate of an 11-cent profit. The company blamed the disappointing estimates on softer-than-expected demand in the fourth quarter.
posted a 17% increase in November same-store sales.
Offerings and stock actions
said it plans to set a convertible subordinated note offering for roughly $400 million to fund its purchase of Internet greeting card company
. In October, Excite@Home inked a $780 million cash and stock deal to buy BlueMountain.com.
said its board approved a 2-for-1 stock split.
raised its price target on
to a range of 115 to 120 from 90 to 95.
is examining strategies to increase its share price, including issuing a tracking stock related to its international or financial services business, selling assets or spinning off units, the
said after yesterday's close that it has retained New York-based investment bank
to advise it on the financial implications of a full range of potential remedies in the landmark
antitrust case. A Justice Department official made it clear that retention of the firm reflects no view by the department on whether the case would be resolved in court or through mediation.
The Inside Wall Street column in
this week, penned by Gene Marcial, quotes
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
analyst Peter Ruschmeier as saying that if
delays capacity expansion and instead buys back shares, the stock "can easily double." If the company doesn't do that, it's going to be tough for the shares to rally, "short of being acquired by a competitor,'' the column quotes Ruschmeier as saying. An unidentified money manager is quoted in the column as saying that a major paper concern "may make a pre-emptive bid, at around 23 a share" for beaten-up Louisiana-Pacific. The money manager also said that, based on fundamentals, Louisiana-Pacific is worth 18, according to the column. Louisiana-Pacific closed at 14 1/4 yesterday.
has attracted an ATM equipment maker to talk about the possibility of a merger, the column reported, citing an investor close to the company. The column also said a big financial-services concern was also interested in buying an equity stake in the company, citing a corporate insider. In Cash Technologies' most recent 10Q filing with the SEC, Bruce Korman, the company's chairman and CEO, disclosed that the concern was is in talks for either a merger or the sale of the company, the column reported.
Finally, the column serves up a bullish item on