Wall Street could use some collard greens and steak.
To say that trading is anemic today is almost an understatement. Even without many market players taking the day off in observance of Yom Kippur, things would likely be on the thin side. There has been little of the merger-and-acquisition news that usually comes on a Monday. With no major economic data out, investors remain in a sort of never-never land when it comes to interest rates -- fed funds futures show a market that is dead even on whether the
Federal Open Market Committee
will hike by its November meeting.
Moreover, the market's recent obsession with the dollar makes today a particularly dangerous time to take on new positions. The currency market is focused on tomorrow's policy meeting of the
Bank of Japan
. There has been a lot of speculation lately that Japanese policy makers have struck some sort of deal with the U.S., wherein the BOJ will increase money supply, and the
will join Japan in intervening to beef up the dollar. Traders know that when they come in tomorrow, the dollar will either be significantly higher against the yen or lower, and that stocks will follow suit. Yet another reason to stay away.
"This is one day where there's not much to do," said Doug Myers, vice president of equity trading at
in Atlanta. "It's slow, light volume -- not much going on." Wall Street looked on track for one of the lowest-volume days of the year.
So tentative is the action that thus far the market hasn't even shown the kind of volatility usually associated with thin volume. Major indices have spent time spent time on either side of the flat line -- but not by much.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 4 to 10,799, while the broader
was off 3 to 1333.
Nasdaq Composite Index
was up 5 to 2875.
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index was up less than a point to 621.
was down 1 1/2 to 433.
Breadth was negative. On the
New York Stock Exchange
, decliners led advancers 1,637 to 1,074 on 316 million shares. There were 35 new 52-week highs and 118 new lows. In
Nasdaq Stock Market
action, decliners were beating advancing issues 1,935 to 1,539 on 438 million shares. There were 91 new highs and 46 new lows.
That poor breadth has been something of a trend lately, and it worries technical analysts greatly.
"The advance/decline line continues to slowly erode, and that means the market will eventually break its back," said Robert Dickey, managing director of technical analysis at
Dain Rauscher Wessels
in Minneapolis. "I think it will happen over the next few weeks. We'll see the big stocks catch up with the rest of the market, which is already a correction in progress."
Dickey suspects that any move down will be the same sort of quick and dirty drop that has characterized the market for much of the decade. "Hard and fast and over soon," he said. "I think it's going to be a short enough correction that by year-end the market will already be recovering."
Monday's Midday Watchlist
fell 1 7/16 to 66 1/16 after the company inked an agreement to buy
for about $296 million, in an effort to strengthen its group life and disability insurance operations. Guarantee rose 1 3/8 to 30 3/8. Jefferson-Pilot will pay $32 a share for Guarantee, in the half-stock, half-cash deal, which also includes the assumption of about $115 million in debt.
inched up 1/2 to 96 15/16 and
slipped 1/16 to 49 7/8 after
The Wall Street Journal
reported the two companies are expected to forge a joint business that would allow Ford to make cars in answer to online orders.
announced their newly formed online auction network,
, which will compete with the No. 1 online auction site,
. Investors didn't exactly seem thrilled, with Excite down 3/4 to 37 5/8, while Ticketmaster Online added 7/16 to 26 1/4. eBay however, was getting some unwanted attention, down 7 1/8, or 5%, to 133 7/8.
FairMarket said the network could connect with more than 46 million visitors, or 73.3% of all Internet users. Among other participants in the new venture,
lost 3/4 to 43 11/16,
edged up 7/8 to 38 13/16,
zoomed 2 1/4, or 12.4%, to 20 3/8 and
doled out 1/2, to 48 3/8.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
fell 3/4, or 5.9%, to 12 after the company announced plans to sell its entertainment and aviation divisions as an alternative to a spinoff, the
The Wall Street Journal
added 7/16 to 41 1/8 after it announced its acquisition of four Internet service providers: Brazil's
ServNet Servicos de Informatica e Communicacao
, Hong Kong-based
German drug maker
said it would buy New Hampshire-based
, for $9.50 a share, or about $100 million. Schering said its goal is to become active in the radiopharmaceutical business, which involves the use of radioactive chemicals to test the location, size or function of tissues, organs and blood vessels. Diatide lifted 1 1/2, or 19.7%, to 9 9/64.
proposed merger with
, in which Sonera has a major interest. VoiceStream added 3, or 5.4%, to 59, while Aerial flew 5 5/16, or 26.7%, to 25 1/4. Meanwhile, Aerial's majority shareholder,
Telephone & Data Systems
gained 3 1/4 to 78 3/4, after saying it canceled plans to spin off the digital cellular phone company in light of the VoiceStream merger. TDS said it would tender its 59.1 million-share stake to VoiceStream.
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
inched up 1/16 to 24 13/16 after the company posted better-than-expected second-quarter results of 86 cents a share, compared with the two-analyst estimate of 81 cents, and up from a year-ago 74 cents.
slipped 5/16 to 13 3/16 after the company lowered earnings expectations for the quarter and the year, citing lower prices for bituminous coal. Consol said it expects results for the current quarter to between 12 cents and 18 cents a share, while the single analyst estimate calls for earnings of 51 cents a share.
fell 1 3/8, or 5.7%, to 22 5/8 after it warned investors it would post third-quarter break-even results or a possible loss, missing the four-analyst estimate of 13 cents a share.
Offerings and stock actions
tacked on 2 1/4 to 48 1/2 after it set a stock buyback plan worth $200 million. The retailer said it finished a $100 million repurchasing plan last October and now has roughly 205 million outstanding shares.
lost 1/16 to 47 1/4 after it set a 3-for-2 stock split.
added 5/16 to 65 1/4 after
Credit Suisse First Boston
raised its fiscal 1999 and 2000 earnings estimates to 62 cents and $2.25 a share, respectively.
Complete Business Solutions
fell 1 1/16, or 7%, to 14 1/16 after
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
sliced its rating to buy from top pick.
rose 5/8 to 56 1/2 after First Boston upgraded the stock to buy from hold, and raised 2000 earnings estimates to $3.95 a share, from $3.85 and 2001 earnings-per-share estimates to $4.29 from $4.12.
moved up 7/8 to 120 7/8 after
added the stock to its Focus One list, and said it could hit 150 by next year.
fell 2 5/16, or 6.5%, to 33 1/4 despite some help from First Boston, which upped its rating to strong buy from buy.
added 1/8 to 33 after
Warburg Dillon Read
upgraded the stock to buy from hold.
powered up 5 3/8, or 9.2%, to 63 15/16 after Warburg Dillon Read upped its rating on the stock to strong buy from buy.
fell 2 11/16 to 58 1/4, despite First Boston's optimism about its net pricing yields and an increased 2000 earnings estimates to $3.55 a share from $3.00.
climbed 5 7/8 , or 5.3%, to 116 5/16 after Credit Suisse First Boston started coverage with a buy rating.
American Home Products
added 1/8 to 46 1/8 after a story in
The New York Times
said Wall Street analysts fear the planned fen-phen settlement may go too far to accommodate plaintiffs, leaving the drugmaker open to lengthy legal proceedings. According to the
, the company and plaintiffs agreed to an initial draft of a memorandum of understanding, which has American Home Products handing over $4 billion to former fen-phen users. Despite the doubts,
Salomon Smith Barney
analyst Christina Heuer raised her rating on the stock to outperform from neutral, citing strategic events including the settlement and potential merger and acquisition activity.
slipped 3/16 to 21 1/8 after it filed a complaint in federal court in Manhattan alleging that
unsolicited bid for it and
is a violation of U.S. antitrust laws. Cyprus also slipped 1/8 to 17 7/16, while Phelps Dodge fell 5/16 to 57 11/16. Asarco is seeking damages for what it says is Phelps' wrongful interference with Asarco's proposed merger with Cyprus.
added 1/8 to 71 3/8 after
The Wall Street Journal
reported the head of the commercial-vehicle division, Kurt Lauk, resigned from the company's management board. The story also said Thomas Stallkamp's role as Chrysler's president is in jeopardy.
was unchanged at 46 5/8 after the
said it unveiled plans to launch 10 trial
centers in its stores to service computers and install software.