Thursday: Market Looks Firm, Nike Looks Bad

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By Justin Lahart
Staff Reporter

Stocks looks mixed to a little firmer this morning.

"The market's going to move sideways for a little while," says Jack Baker, head of trading at

Furman Selz

.

The futures and bond markets are signaling a positive open. The

S&P 500

futures are up 0.65, putting them more than a point over fair value. The 30-year Treasury bond is up 7/32 at 95 6/32, pushing the yield down to 7.01%.

"It's unbelievable that the market is acting this well with the yield on the long bond above 7%," says Baker. "If it holds out until the yield slips back below 7%, we could have a rally."

"It seems like sponsorship is coming back to some of the downtrodden groups, particularly the networkers," says one Nasdaq trader.

He also noted that small-caps are continuing their turnaround.

"Institutions gravitate into the less liquid stocks when there's more monetary certainty," he says, noting that the

Fed's

mixed messages over the last year may have been what kept some big investors in the big-caps.

It's not all good news though.

"The disaster of the day is

Nike

(NKE) - Get Report

," says Baker.

Nike warned that its earnings for the fourth quarter ended May 31 will be between 55 and 60 cents a share, excluding charges. That's well below

First Call

consensus estimates for earnings of 69 cents a share. The shoemaker also said that it would take a charge of 4 cents a share for the closing of one of its

Bauer

subsidiary's plants.

Yesterday, Nike shares gained 3 7/8 to 64 on rumors that

Warren Buffett

has been putting more of his chips on the company.

"Nothing like making a big sale ahead of news," says one trader.

Scholastic

(SCHL) - Get Report

announced a restructuring plan and warned that it would report break-even numbers for the fiscal year ended May 31, including charges. First Call estimates were for $1.50 a share.

Japan stocks paused for breath after yesterday's run-up. The

Nikkei

closed down 39.11 at 20,312.23.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun

reports that

Bandai

president Makoto Yamashina is stepping down to take responsibility for the Tamagotchi-maker's decision to pull out of its merger with

Sega

. There's rumored to be a fight for leadership at the company.

Hong Kong

stocks turned tail today, with property stocks leading the decline. The

Hang Seng

dropped 139.93 to close at 14,416.57.

Beijing Enterprises

, the investment arm of the city of Beijing, began trading today. Investors, anxious to put their money to work in the Mainland's booming economy, drove Beijing to $40.20 (HK) from its offering price of $12.48.

The German markets are closed for Corpus Christi.

London stocks have taken back some early losses. In the early going, stocks moved lower, weighted by Wall Street's drop, and jitters over the German government's decision to revalue gold reserves and Sunday's French election run-off. Now, the

FTSE

has edged into the black column. It's up 0.70 at 4678.20.