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Sunshine Overseas but Futures-Led Clouds Overhead

The futures suggest a weak open, but in a market this thin, who knows?

Major overseas markets all looking good. Bond market holding up well. Time for stocks to go up?

That's not what the futures market has been saying this morning. At 9 a.m. EDT, the

S&P 500

futures were off 0.2, putting them a bit more than 4 below fair value and indicating a slight decline at the open.

Today it's hard to gauge the market's direction. Futures traders, looking at four days of gains and knowing that stocks are supposed to be locked in a range until there's a clear signal on what the

Federal Open Market Committee

is going to do when it meets at the end of the month, are selling. But in a thin market, stocks' momentum from yesterday may prevail.

"We probably have a little more room, but probably not a whole lot on the upside," said Todd Clark, head of listed trading at

Charles Schwab

. "I don't think we're going to have a lot more, though, based on the low levels of activity and narrow breadth we saw yesterday."

The 30-year Treasury was up 8/32 to 90 8/32, putting the yield at 5.95%. With little in the way of data until Friday's

producer price index


retail sales

figures, bond traders will focus their attention on yet-another round of


speakers. Trading isn't expected to show much of a pickup from Monday's wafer-thin activity.

Tokyo stocks rose after one of the more forthright government agencies said the Japanese economy has hit bottom. In its monthly report, the

Economic Planning Agency

said that though the economy remains in "severe" condition, it has stopped deteriorating and is now "drifting sideways." The


added 87.03 to 16,562.92

The market was also cheered by a report in the

Nihon Keizai Shimbun

that the ruling

Liberal Democratic Party

has decided to draft two a two-stage supplementary budget directed at employment measures -- a plan that's been floated by EPA chief

Taichi Sakaiya

. And after the close, the

Ministry of Finance's

TheStreet Recommends

business-sentiment survey of large companies showed an uptick to minus 9.9 in the April-June period from minus 17.9 in the previous period. This after the

Ministry of International Trade and Industry's

sentiment survey showed a similar improvement suggests that the

Bank of Japan's

sentiment indicator, the closely watched


, should also come in well.

Hong Kong stocks continued to gain ground, with the

Hang Seng

index touching 13,000 intraday -- a major resistance level -- for the first time in more than three weeks. But whether Hong Kong can break that level will depend greatly on how Wall Street performs in the weeks leading up to the


meeting at the end of the month. The

Hang Seng

added 27.47 to 12,864.86.

With the


crisis closer to resolution, and first-quarter German

gross domestic product

showing a return to modest growth, Frankfurt stocks were moving higher. The


was up 40.27 to 5230.42.

Spurred higher by gains in media issues, Paris'


was up 14.39 to 4418.63.

London stocks were gaining for the seventh day in a row, again on the back of good performances in the drug and telecom sectors. The


was up 39.4 to 6451.4.

Tuesday's Wake-Up Watchlist


Brian Louis

Staff Reporter

  • Disney (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report said it is in talks to buy the rest of Infoseek (SEEK) , possibly in exchange for an Internet tracking stock Disney would create. Disney currently has a 43% stake in Infoseek.
  • Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS) Report, Merrill Lynch (MER) and Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, are expected to announce today they're hooking up to create a new electronic trading they hope will rival the New York Stock Exchange, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. In other news:
  • Allstate (ALL) - Get Allstate Corporation Report is in talks to acquire the auto and homeowners' insurance operations of CNA Financial (CNA) - Get CNA Financial Corporation Report in a complex deal valued at more than $500 million, the Journal reported, citing people close to the matter.
  • Online retailing titan (AMZN) - Get, Inc. Report is taking steps to open an online toy store in the next month or so, the Journal reported. Meanwhile, has begun offering free songs for download. Songs are available for download from the following artists: Cheap Trick, Cowboy Junkies, Robert Cray, Lyle Lovett, Sarah McLachlan, Randy Newman, Pavement, Public Enemy, Elliott Smith, the Stone Coyotes, Rufus Wainwright, Cheryl Wheeler, Widespread Panic and Kelly Willis.
  • Bank of New York (BK) - Get Bank of New York Mellon Corporation Report is selling its BNY Financial unit to the GMAC arm of General Motors (GM) - Get General Motors Company (GM) Report for $1.8 billion in cash.
  • Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette trimmed fourth-quarter earnings estimates on Compaq (CPQ) , Dell (DELL) - Get Dell Technologies Inc Class C Report, Hewlett-Packard (HWP) , IBM (IBM) - Get International Business Machines (IBM) Report, Sun Microsystems (SUNW) - Get Sunworks, Inc. Report and EMC (EMC) , CNBC reported.
  • Crown Castle International (TWRS) said it has acquired 619 wireless communications towers from Powertel (PTEL) for about $262 million in cash.
  • (KOOP:Nasdaq) -- an online healthcare company named after C. Everett Koop, the former U.S. surgeon general -- will begin trading today. Its 9.375 million-share IPO was priced at $9 each.
  • Lycos (LCOS) said it will be the preset portal on new Packard Bell and NEC (NIPNY) computers.
  • Select Comfort (AIRB) , which TSC'sHerb Greenberg has written about, warned second-quarter earnings will be significantly below Wall Street estimates. The current First Call four-analyst consensus estimate calls for the company to earn 15 cents a share in the second quarter.
  • US Airways (U) - Get UNITY SOFTWARE, INC. Report said second-quarter earnings will come in at $1.80 to $1.85 a share, CNBC reported. The current First Call 11-analyst estimate calls for US Airways to earn $2.15 a share in the second quarter.