We know now that the ascent toward 10,000 was a little too steep, a little too hurried, for the stock market -- a Hillary Step that left investors gasping for oxygen.

So back down they went for three solid days, and only yesterday did they bivouac. Good news for this morning: It appears that in the new range the market has carved out for itself, where we are right now marks the bottom.

There's also a bit of a buy-to-the-sound-of-cannons to the stock market today. People think -- rightly or wrongly -- that they have a pretty good handle on what is happening in Kosovo. That they can put it in a box, demarcate what kind of risk it holds for Wall Street.

And then there are those big tech stocks. They led the way down, and judging from yesterday's action, they're going to lead the way back up.

"Somebody rang a bell at 2:15 yesterday and said, 'Hey, if you don't own

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

,

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

and

MCI Worldcom

(WCOM)

, you're a moron," said Bill Meehan, market analyst at

Cantor Fitzgerald

.

Meehan also noted that comments from

New York Fed

President

William McDonough

last night should put a bid on stocks. McDonough said that the Fed is "willing to say the economy is working in a way that it has not worked before, that we in fact don't fully understand it, but we are going to let it happen and that is very much our current stance."

Said the bearish Meehan of such new-era musings: "I guess he's sending a message that you should borrow some dough and put it to work."

All in all, this doesn't seem a bad time to buy, or so the

S&P 500

futures would suggest this morning. At 9 a.m. EST, they were up 8.2, nearly 8 above fair value and indicating a good open. Meanwhile, the 30-year Treasury bond was up 4/32 to 95 31/32, putting the yield at 5.53%.

After two days of heavy selling in Tokyo, the buyers were back in force. Gains in global blue-chips -- the mark of foreign buying -- led the way as the

Nikkei

climbed 470.57, or 3%, to 15,986.04.

Hong Kong stocks gained, but in a more muted fashion, as many investors rode the pine ahead of 1998 earnings announcements from

Hutchinson Whampoa

and

Cheung Kong

. The

Hang Seng

added 114.79, or 1.1%, to 10,826.13.

Europe's major bourses were rallying. In Germany, the

Dax

was up 55.87, or 1.2%, to 4836. In Paris, the

CAC

was up 54.38, or 1.3%, to 4112.54. And, in London, the

FTSE

was up 70.1, or 1.2%, to 6086.8.

Thursday's Wake-Up Watchlist

By

Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

  • New Century Energies (NCE) is merging with Northern States Power (NSP) - Get Report. The company will be named later. The companies said they expect the merger to result in net cost savings of about $1.1 billion in the first 10 years of operations.
  • Ericsson (ERICY) and Qualcomm (QCOM) - Get Report said they've resolved their disputes relating to code division multiple access technology. Under the agreements, the companies agreed to support a single-world CDMA standard. Also, Ericsson will buy Qualcomm's terrestrial CDMA wireless infrastructure business.
  • The Global One telecommunications consortium of Sprint (FON) , France Telecom (FTE) and Deutsche Telekom (DT) - Get Report is close to collapse and an agreement to dissolve the venture could come within six weeks, The New York Times reported, citing execs close to Global One.
  • IBM (IBM) - Get Report disclosed a pretax loss of nearly $1 billion from its personal-computer business last year, prompting renewed calls for Big Blue to exit the PC market, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (MWD) posted first-quarter earnings of $1.76 a share, blowing away the First Call 12-analyst estimate of $1.34 and up from the year-ago $1.10.
  • America Online (AOL) and eBay (EBAY) - Get Report set a four-year marketing pact under which eBay will pay AOL $75 million over the term of the deal. Separately, eBay said it filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed public offering of 6.5 million shares of stock. The company said it will use the proceeds from the stock sale for general corporate purposes. In other news (earnings estimates from First Call):
  • First Union (FTU) and Everen Capital (EVR) - Get Report are going to form an asset management joint venture, merging the Evergreen and Mentor groups of mutual funds.
  • Maytag (MYG) said first-quarter sales and income are running ahead of expectations and earnings per share for the quarter will likely exceed current Wall Street expectations. The company said if its current internal projections hold, it expects earnings per share to be above 90 cents a share. The seven-analyst estimate calls for Maytag to earn 81 cents a share in the first quarter. In the year-ago period, Maytag posted earnings of 75 cents a share.
  • Micron Technology (MU) - Get Report yesterday posted second-quarter operating earnings of 12 cents a share, excluding a 3-cent writedown for flat panel display assets and a charge for consolidation of PC operations in Japan. The 19-analyst First Call view called for a profit of 1 cent a share vs. the year-ago loss of 24 cents.
  • NationsBanc Montgomery Securities initiated coverage of a host of Internet companies, including Net titans AOL, Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Report, and Yahoo! (YHOO) , with buy ratings.
  • Germany's SAP (SAP) - Get Report said first-quarter sales growth will fall short of its previous year-on-year forecast of 20% to 25%, meaning pretax profits should "fall significantly" from year-ago levels. For the full year, the company expressed confidence it can achieve its revenue growth target of 20% to 25% and that profits for the full year will exceed 1998 levels.
  • XL Capital (XL) posted first-quarter operating earnings of $1.22 a share, beating the seven-analyst estimate of $1.12 and up from the year-ago $1.11.