A late surge in the futures market has stocks ready to move higher in early action this morning.
At 9:05 a.m. EDT, the
futures were up 2.7, about three points above fair value and indicating some strength at the open. But there's no telling how long that strength will last, especially after the anemic quality we saw in
yesterday's session, which may have thrown a bit of water on those who'd been proclaiming last week's strength the beginning of a new skyward climb in the market.
As everyone's probably heard by now, that climb is going to be difficult to resume as long as bond yields remain unwilling to shed some weight. The 30-year Treasury was up 3/32 to 97 2/32, putting its yield at a still portly 6.345%. The December bond futures, which stock traders watch more closely than the cash bond, were up 7/32 to 111 7/32.
"The bonds are wearing the pants in this family," said Bryan Piskorowski, market analyst at
No big economic numbers are scheduled for today. Those start coming in on Thursday with advance third-quarter
gross domestic product
figures and the closely watched
Employment Cost Index
. But market players not sufficiently diverted by the continuing stream of corporate earnings will have
speak aplenty to pore over, with four Fed Bank presidents -- San Francisco's Robert Parry, St. Louis' William Poole, Minneapolis' Gary Stern and Richmond's J. Alfred Broaddus, Jr. -- giving addresses at four separate conferences.
Tech stocks were poised for a strong open, with
bid up 1 7/16, or 2.2%, to 66 7/8 in premarket trading. "I think what you're seeing here is what's become typical lately, holding close to the earnings tree," Piskorowski said. "Companies that continue to exhibit strong and sustainable earnings growth are the ones portfolio managers are willing to hold onto in times of uncertainty."
is already out this morning with fourth-quarter numbers above expectations.
Yesterday's weakness on Wall Street capped the upside for Asian markets overnight. Stocks sold off in Hong Kong, erasing all of the 1.3% gain the
had made in the previous session, and then some. In thin trading, the benchmark index closed down 236.80, or 1.8%, to 12,797.38.
Things were more mixed in Tokyo, where the
gained 23 to close at 17,671.79 on solidly negative breadth. The yen firmed steadily across the board overnight, the dollar falling from the 105.4-yen to around the 104.6-yen level in Tokyo trading. Tomorrow the
Bank of Japan's
policy board is expected to serve up new details on its plan to step up outright purchases of short-term government debt.
The greenback was lately quoted at 104.67 yen.
Slow household consumption data from France bolstered the European bond market, and that in turn gave heart to regional bourses. In early afternoon, London's
was up 59.4, or 1%, to 6068.8, while the Paris
was 34.55 higher, or 0.7%, to 4703.83. Frankfurt's
was up 58.66, or 1.1%, to 5379.06 despite resistance from
, whose third-quarter earnings rose less than expected.
The euro was lately trading at $1.0571.
Tuesday's Wake-Up Watchlist
Lucent reported fourth-quarter earnings of 31 cents a share, beating the 29-analyst estimate of 29 cents and the year-ago 7 cents. The company said that excluding acquisition-related charges, profits rose to $972 million from $647 million a year earlier, helped by strong growth in sales of wireless, data and optical networking equipment.
Lucent also announced it would restructure into four core businesses in order to focus on the fastest-growing equipment markets, such as data and optical networking, wireless and semiconductors. The four business units, which will operate under one brand and be supported by Bell Labs technology are: Service Provider Networks, Enterprise Networks, NetCare Professional Services and Microelectronics and Communications Technologies.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
agreed to merge, creating a company with a market capitalization of $850 million. IPIX shareholders will get 1.369 shares of Bamboo.com for each IPIX share, with IPIX and Bamboo shareholders each owning about 50% of the combined company.
Separately, each of the companies reported narrower-than-expected third-quarter losses. Bamboo.com reported a third-quarter loss of 63 cents a share, smaller than the 2-analyst expectation of a 65-cent loss, but wider than a year-ago loss of 1 cent a share. Interactive Pictures reported a loss of 44 cents a share, narrower than the four-analyst estimated loss of 45 cents a share, and a year-ago loss of 78 cents a share.
may invest billions over four years to develop and promote a home game console, code-named X-box, in an effort to compete with
forthcoming Playstation 2,
The Wall Street Journal
will offer its Linux program.
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
said third-quarter earnings beat expectations, rising 14%, and helped by strong sales of its Chrysler and Mercedes cars. The company earned $1.6 billion, or $1.65 a share, after adjustments for one-time charges and profits, compared with $1.41 billion, or $1.45 a share, in the same period a year ago.
posted third-quarter earnings of $1.08 a share, beating the nine-analyst estimate of 97 cents and the year-ago 64 cents.
Thomas & Betts
reported third-quarter earnings of 82 cents a share, in line with the five-analyst estimate and up from a year-ago loss of 66 cents a share
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
with an outperform rating.
Morgan Stanley started
with an outperform rating and set a price target of 105.