Thursday: Repent, 7000 is Near - TheStreet

Millennium fever strikes again.

With the possibility of the Dow busting 7000 today, traders are speaking in tongues and doing that St. Vitus dance. Business as usual, in other words.

"Yeah, it'll break 7000 today," said one trader this morning, who expects the market to open higher. But others said there may be resistance to breaking though the key, psychological barrier today. Perhaps therapy would help.

Retail Sales

for January climbed 0.6%, 0.1% lower than expected.

Initial Jobless Claims

came in at 309,000, lower than the expected 335,000. The bond market shrugged off the jobless numbers, though. The benchmark 30-year Treasury bond is up 4/32 to 97 16/32, driving the yield down to 6.69. The S&P 500 Futures are trading modestly higher.

American General

(AGC)

will acquire

US Life

(USH)

in a stock deal valued at $1.8 billion.

Motorola

(MOT)

and

Rockwell

(ROK) - Get Report

announced an alliance to make 56k modems.

Microtouch

(MTSI) - Get Report

reported fourth quarter earnings of 21 cents per share, a penny above

First Call Estimates

.

Shared Medical Systems

(SMED) - Get Report

posted earnings of 55 cents a share, three cents higher than First Call estimations.

Markets were mixed in Asia. With more officials mumbling support for Japan's troubled banks, the Nikkei rose again, this time climbing 278.10 to close at 18,688.06 -- the highest close in over a month. The strong dollar also lent a hand. The Hang Seng fell sharply to close at 13,239.95, down 222.66. Some big foreign investors, including Morgan Stanley, are rumored to be shifting some of their Hong Kong holdings into other regional markets.

The FTSE is up 18.5 at 4322.79. While sentiment remains positive, with Labour leading in the polls, traders are getting jittery about the forthcoming general election. Yet another record in Frankfurt (the tenth in a row), where the strong dollar and Wall Street's big gains yesterday helped fuel the Dax's fire. The index closed at 3229.48, up 13.34.

By Justin Lahart

jlahart@thestreet.com