Stocks are going to have to find their own way this morning.
So much of the market's action lately has been about waiting for the next piece of data. That period ended yesterday with the
Consumer Price Index
. A lot of what happens today will reflect the bets investors will be making -- or not making -- ahead of next Tuesday's long-awaited
With earnings expected to be even juicier than the last quarter, a 25-basis-point hike, with no suggestion of another to come in October, could set up a serious fall rally. On the other hand, if the Fed hints of more hikes to come by adopting a tightening bias, things could get a bit ugly.
"The market definitely has a better tone" now that the inflation data have come in benign, said Jim Volk, co-director of institutional trading at
. But with that data out of the way, "company specifics are ruling here."
to put some upward pressure on the
Nasdaq Composite Index
after last night's upside earnings report. And Net stocks should get a boost from word that
analyst Henry Blodget has upgraded
to near-term buy from buy.
"We're leaning toward positive," Volk continued. "But the futures are down, and I think we'll see some normal profit-taking"
At 9:10 a.m. EDT, the
futures were down 2, 3.5 points below fair value and indicating a mixed open. The 30-year Treasury was giving back some of yesterday's gains, lately off 9/32 to 101 11/32, its yield rising to 6.028%.
In Tokyo, some early gains in the
turned tail as the yen continued to pick up ground against the dollar. Rumor has it that former Vice Finance Minister
, also known as "Mr. Yen," was endorsing a stronger yen -- as strong as 110 to the dollar -- as long as it didn't hurt domestic stock prices. Current Vice Finance Minister
declined to comment, merely telling reporters that Japan's forex policy had not changed.
The Nikkei gained 32.17 to 17,892.26. The dollar was lately just above 112 yen, a six-month low. The euro had fallen to nearly 119 yen, its weakest level since its inception this year.
Early on, the Nikkei had risen as high as 18,082.47, largely on buying inspired by a rebalancing of
Morgan Stanley Capital International's
That's the second time in a week MSCI has moved Asian markets, having taken Hong Kong stocks lower last Friday with the news that it will lower that country's weighting in its benchmark indices. Overnight, the
advanced 209.94, or 1.6%, to 12,993.10, cued by the benign CPI and New York's heartening reaction to that data.
In London, England's weakness has been the
strength so far today. The benchmark index was up 31.8 to 6198.2 as U.K. retail sales came in much weaker than expected, rising an anemic 0.1% in July. Also helping the market were the newly released minutes from the last
Bank of England
monetary policy meeting, which revealed a unanimous vote not to raise interest rates.
The other big European bourses were mixed. In Paris, the
was up 7.62 to 4487.37, while Frankfurt's
was 12.76 lower to 5247.15.
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
after the close yesterday reported third-quarter earnings of 61 cents a share, 8 cents ahead of the 29-analyst estimate.
reported a second-quarter loss of a nickel a share, in line with the three-analyst estimate.
reported a break-even second quarter, in line with the two-analyst estimate.
reported a second-quarter loss of 4 cents a share, in line with the 14-analyst estimate.
Dell after the close yesterday reported second-quarter earnings of 19 cents a share, 2 cents ahead of the 30-analyst estimate.
last night reported fourth-quarter earnings of a penny a share, slightly better than the 21-analyst expectation that the company would break even.
reported second-quarter earnings of 11 cents a share, in line with the 18-analyst estimate.
reported second-quarter earnings of 12 cents a share, in line with the 12-analyst estimate.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
agreed to acquire
in a deal that calls for Olsten to split off its health services unit.
agreed to invest $50 million in
, which produces technology that makes Web sites operate more quickly. Cisco will take a roughly 4% stake in the company.
agreed to acquire
for $1.7 billion in stock. Lucent will issue 0.5580 share for each Excel share, or $37 a share based on Lucent's closing price yesterday. That's a 34% premium to Excel's closing price of 27 9/16.
plans to acquire
in a deal that could be worth as much as $4 billion. Food Lion also set a 1-for-3 reverse stock split and said it would form a holding company to facilitate acquisitions.
Offerings and stock actions
(NOVA:Nasdaq) 4 million-share IPO was priced at $8 a share last night by lead underwriter
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
, below its already lowered pricing range of $9 to $11 a share. The IPO was originally scheduled for 7.1 million shares at an expected $11 to $13.
cut Applied Materials to buy from strong buy.
raised Lycos to buy from neutral, and cut
to neutral from buy.
Procter & Gamble
to its Global Recommended Portfolio.
foreign creditors, including
, pledged not to sue the troubled South Korean
to recover $6 billion in debt owed to them. Daewoo said it will keep paying interest on the debt.