One of the worst things that could happen this morning would be for stocks to run higher out of the gate.
When that happens after a big drop like yesterday's, in which the market closes at its lows of the day, it's usually an idiot bounce -- pain for anyone who chases it.
One of the best things that could happen would be for stocks to open flat to lower. When that happens, it usually shows that the market has found support, and it's a sign to investors to nibble.
So to say that stocks look like they'll see slight pressure at the bell today is a good thing. But that is not to say that the stock market is not an incredibly dangerous place.
"I don't think I'd be jumping in to buy anything right here," said Jim Benning, trader at
, who expects that the market is in for a real blowoff day in the next week or so. "I think it would be a healthy sign to see a sharp decline. Then you might see some kind of rally."
At 9 a.m. EST, the
futures were down 2.5, about 4 below fair value.
Treasuries were under slight pressure. The 30-year was off 4/32 to 99 1/32, lifting the yield to 5.32%.
rose 49.74 to 13,952.40 in mixed trading. Volume was light, with many investors staying out of the market ahead of tomorrow's holiday.
Traders are focusing on Friday's meeting of the
Bank of Japan
. There has been heavy pressure on the
to support the Japanese government bond market. Though the bank has been at pains to preserve its independence, it's now almost a foregone conclusion that it will eventually have to buckle. At this point, it is simply a matter of wrangling over the price -- the government and the
Ministry of Finance
want the BOJ to step into the bond market, and the BOJ is working to ensure that the government and the MOF will pay for that.
Yesterday's losses in New York sent Hong Kong stocks spiraling lower in futures-led action. The
dropped 168.16, or 1.8%, to 9076.33.
European stocks were all lower. In Frankfurt, the
was off 154.11, or 3.1%, to 4750.24. In Paris, the
was down 64.85, or 1.6%, to 3973.64. In London, the
was down 81.7, or 1.4%, to 5698.2.
Wednesday's Wake-Up Watchlist
- Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) - Get Report said Tuesday it will no longer develop EntreMed's (ENMD) experimental anticancer drug, angiostatin, as part of the companies' research agreement. Before the open, EntreMed was off 10 1/2 from Tuesday's close at 14, Reuters reported.
- Monsanto's (MTC) - Get Report arthritis-pain drug Celebrex is generating prescriptions in its third week on the market that are more than six times those of the fast-selling cholesterol drug Lipitor at a comparable stage, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In other news (earnings estimates are from
- Allstate (ALL) - Get Report posted fourth-quarter operating earnings of 78 cents, in line with the 19-analyst estimate but down from the year-earlier 80 cents.
America Online (AOL) and
Columbia House, a direct marketer of music, videos and DVDs, set an advertising and promotional deal. Under the multiyear pact, Columbia House will promote its music, video and DVD clubs in AOL's Shopping Channel, as well as on AOL.com, CompuServe, Digital City and Entertainment Asylum.
Deutsche Bank's (DTBKY) chief executive, said he is confident that his bank's $10 billion takeover of
Bankers Trust (BT) will be completed as planned in the second quarter. Questions have surrounded the deal since its announcement last year and recent developments regarding Deutsche Bank's involvement with the Nazis in World War II have further clouded the outlook.
Bestfoods (BFO) - Get Report posted fourth-quarter operating earnings of 64 cents a share, in line with the 12-analyst estimate.
Champion Enterprises (CHB) posted fourth-quarter operating earnings of 46 cents a share, beating the eight-analyst estimate by a penny but down from the year-ago 47 cents.
Jones Apparel (JNY) reported fourth-quarter earnings of 30 cents a share, beating the 13-analyst view of 27 cents and the year-ago 27 cents. The company said it remains comfortable with the upper end of Wall Street earnings estimates around $1.80 for 1999. It also said its goal for the year 2000 is to achieve earnings growth of 20%.
K-Tel (KTEL) posted a second-quarter loss of 23 cents a share, wider than the year-ago 11 cents. The company also said
Nasdaq told it that K-Tel now meets the requirements for continued listing on the
Nasdaq National Market.
MedPartners (MDM) posted fourth-quarter earnings of 6 cents a share, a penny shy of the 11-analyst view.
Network Solutions (NSOL) , which registers Internet domain names, posted fourth-quarter earnings of 22 cents a share, beating the six-analyst estimate of 20 cents and the year-ago 11 cents. The company said it registered a record 621,000 net new domain names in the fourth quarter, up 137% from the year-earlier period and up 22% from the third quarter of 1998.
Pharmacia & Upjohn (PNU) reported fourth-quarter operating earnings of 45 cents a share, in line with the 18-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 35 cents. The company said fourth-quarter sales totaled $1.8 billion, up 9% from the year-earlier period. The company said it is confident of delivering another year of double-digit earnings growth in 1999.
Segue Software (SEGU) said
Netscape (NSCP) chose its software to ensure quality, performance and scalability of Netscape's server software.
Shop At Home (SATH) said it is working with
Oracle (ORCL) - Get Report and
iXL to launch
collectibles.com "as the premier online community for collectible shopping and information." Launch is targeted for the third quarter.
Wang (WANG) posted fourth-quarter earnings before items of 47 cents a share, beating the seven-analyst estimate of 31 cents.
Among the companies slated to present at
Goldman Sachs' 13th Annual Technology Investment Symposium:
Gateway (GTW) ,
Texas Instruments (TXN) - Get Report,
BMC Software (BMCS) ,
Sun Microsystems (SUNW) - Get Report, Oracle,
E*Trade (EGRP) ,
Inktomi (INKT) ,
Unisys (UIS) - Get Report and
eBay (EBAY) - Get Report.