Past is prologue.
Stocks were sloppy and rangebound on Wall Street yesterday, and this morning augurs nothing different. "There's not much out there to get excited about," said Todd Clark, head of listed trading at
. "I think you just want to key on yesterday's high and low and go with the flow on it."
The market looks weak on the open, though not as weak as it did earlier in the morning. At 9 a.m. EST, the
futures were off 3.3, a little more than a point below fair value. The futures turned around a bit when the bond market, down a bit earlier, got a bid. The 30-year Treasury was up 6/32 to 95 18/32, dropping the yield to 5.56%.
For those obsessed with the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
, some bad news.
made some negative comments about
, lowering its 1999 earnings estimate to $1.45 from $1.50 for the Dow component and cutting its volume growth estimate to 3%-5% from 4%-6%.
also lowered volume estimates on Coke.
ministers meeting in Vienna have reportedly signed an agreement to cut production by a little over 1.7 million barrels a day. With cuts by other oil producers, total production will be trimmed by 2.1 million barrels per day -- so long as nobody goes back on the deal, as has happened the last two times.
May oil futures were up 37 cents to $15.73 a barrel, but the OPEC meeting is having a limited impact on other markets. "You had a lot of junior people meeting over the last month and a half, and the deal was widely expected today," explained Mike Cloherty, senior economist at
Credit Suisse First Boston
. "The senior people come in and they just rubber-stamp the details that have already been worked out."
Cloherty also said that though lower commodity prices have caught headlines, they are only a minor part of the low-inflation environment in the U.S. "We've seen oil jump three bucks," he said. "That will push up your headline CPI number, but as far as the longer-term trends, commodities are not the big story in what is happening with inflation. The real story is how labor-market costs have been able to stay so low despite low unemployment and the productivity boom."
For the stock market, in fact, perhaps the worst thing that could happen would be for the deal to fall apart. Oil stocks have been one of the bright spots lately.
Tokyo traders came back from their three-day weekend and sold. The
dropped 359.68, or 2.2%, to 16,019.10. But people weren't sweating the drop, which was seen as natural after the recent gains.
Hong Kong stocks had one of those rocky days that end up signifying nothing -- or at least very little. Down as much as 200 intraday, the
closed off 66.23 to 11,041.01.
With Wall Street's inability to move higher, European investors were finding little to inspire them -- and selling as a result.
"It's very drifty at the moment," said one London trader. "The volume in the market is very low -- there's just a lack of interest."
In Frankfurt, the
was off 102.55, or 2%, to 4924.51. In Paris, the
was down 66.07, or 1.6%, to 4130.99. And in London, the
was down 39.6 to 6113.2.
Tuesday's Wake-Up Watchlist
- Yahoo! (YHOO) has been in talks for a week to buy
The Wall Street Journal reported. The
Journal report comes on the heels of a report Friday on
Business Week Online that said Yahoo! might acquire broadcast.com and that both
America Online (AOL) and
General Electric's (GE) - Get ReportNBC were also interested in broadcast.com.
Unicom (UCM) , parent of
Commonwealth Edison, is selling six ComEd coal-fired generating plants, its Collins Station and nine peaking unit sites to
Edison Mission Energy, a unit of
Edison International (EIX) - Get Report, for $4.8 billion.
Merrill Lynch cut its first-quarter and full-year 1999 earnings estimates for
Coca-Cola (KO) - Get Report. The new earnings estimate calls for Coca-Cola to earn 31 cents a share in the first quarter, down from 32 cents, and $1.45 a share for the full year, down from $1.50.
In other news (earnings estimates from
Federal Communications Commission may impose tough conditions on two Baby Bell mergers --
SBC Communications' (SBC) $56 billion purchase of
Ameritech (AIT) - Get Report and
Bell Atlantic's (BEL) $52 billion merger with
GTE (GTE) - Get Report -- including making the deals contingent on the Bells' first opening their networks to rival carriers in at least one state, the
Brookstone (BKST) reported fourth-quarter earnings of $2.25 a share, beating the two-analyst view of $2.21 and up from the year-ago $1.87.
A couple of analysts say
Conseco (CNC) - Get Report, a life and health insurance and finance concern, is showing signs of strain from a 16-year acquisition spree that may make it difficult for the company to maintain its projected earnings growth, the Heard on the Street column in the
Discount Auto Parts (DAP) posted third-quarter earnings of 40 cents a share, in line with the five-analyst estimate, but down from the year-ago 42 cents.
DoubleClick (DCLK) entered an advertising deal with
Road Runner, a high-speed Internet access service. Yesterday DoubleClick announced a contract to supply advertising information to
Comcast (CMCSA) - Get Report.
Just For Feet posted fourth-quarter earnings of 9 cents a share, in line with the seven-analyst estimate, but below the year-ago 20 cents.
PathoGenesis (PGNS) warned it expects to report a first-quarter loss of 30 cents a share, a mile away from the earnings of 20 cents expected by the six-analyst consensus.