It's that big global family, investors.
Despite previous confusion about just what kind of nonmarkets events matter to the markets, it seems relatively effortless to decipher: Japan counts, Brazil counts, Russia counts and, now, Kosovo counts. (
politics usually do not. Iraq did, and then it didn't.)
The real agony, of course, comes from asking: To what extent and for how long will (imminent)
bombings on Serbian targets influence stocks? Is it only the sleeping pill to let an exhausted yet conflicted market rest? Would the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
have lost 2.2% and the
Nasdaq Composite Index
yesterday if the major indices weren't near record levels?
And what about today's calm? Calm? Heck, peace.
One explanation for a mixed-to-positive morning is that stocks do tend to rub their bruises after a big fall. Another is
Abby Joseph Cohen's
customary morning-after positive comments.
Revising her year-end
price target to 1325 from 1275-1300 and her Dow target to 10,300 from 9850, the
strategist said: "We expect 1999 and 2000 to be years of ongoing profit expansion, with better aggregate gains than 1998, which was disappointing. ... Aggregate profit growth will be enhanced in 1999-2000 by less difficult global conditions. For example, energy-related companies suffered outright losses in 1998 but are expected to be profitable in coming quarters. Earnings improvement is also expected for a variety of industries, including semiconductor equipment and communications services."
Attributing today's stability in stocks to Cohen's remarks, Ned Collins, executive vice president of U.S. stocks at
Daiwa Securities America
, said he sees a near-term correction until earnings season and then another push skyward. But he's worried about the military troubles abroad.
"This is the sort of situation that has the potential to last a long time," the trader said. "Are Americans going to lose their lives? Russia had their Vietnam, we had ours. Just hope it doesn't happen again. At this point, our military is not that much stronger than Russia's because that dope in the White House let our military go to the pod."
, Yugoslavia has warned its citizens of immediate bombings, and Russian President
said in a televised address that President Clinton and French President
told him NATO strikes would begin in "a few hours."
Jay Meagrow, vice president of trading at
in Cleveland, said that with a mixed market on low volume, traders were waiting until this afternoon to make a move either way. "We're real quiet here," he said. "People are just sitting around, waiting to see what happens this afternoon in Yugoslavia. There's just that uncertainty. I'm impressed the market has stayed as flat as it has, and even up there for a while."
As for the stock market, Collins said: "We went up 700 points in a very short time and got to an area where it was very toppy, making investors very nervous," he said. "So I think we're going to be in an area of consolidating, solidifying. Maybe we'll fall to 9450, 9250 -- I don't think it makes a whole heck of a lot of difference. I see 9250 as the worst call and 9450 as a good support number. It's going to be some real backing and filling, though, until we get some of these earnings reports. And if they disappoint, which I don't think they will, maybe we'll see the market make an even further downward move than what I'm saying."
The Dow recently was down 4 to 9668, off its session high of 9703.19. The blue-chip index's losses were mitigated most by
While Collins argued hyperextended indices will fuel a new pullback, he said he doesn't think that magic Dow 10,000 figure had anything to do with it: "It's like if you flipped a coin 5,000 times, 50% of the time it'd be even. Stocks had no idea they were near 10,000. My father-in-law says he rolled 37 passes one time in Vegas. You think the dice had any clue? It's just numbers to me -- I don't think they do anything. And a whole lotta people were getting sick of
and his group playing it up like a goddamn bazaar. It was almost embarrassing."
The broader S&P 500 was down 2 to 1260, and the small-cap
was down 1 to 382. (In a
piece this morning,
had a look at how the S&P 500 actually is becoming increasingly more narrow.)
The tech-loaded Nasdaq was down 1 to 2322, boosted by admirable gains in bellwethers
was up 0.1% and the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
was up 0.5%, while the
Morgan Stanley High-Tech 35
was down 0.1%.
Internets, however, were still feeling queasy, with
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index off 13 to 584.
TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index
was losing 3 to 105.
Market internals were mixed. On the
New York Stock Exchange
, decliners were leading advancers 1,411 to 1,288 on 438 million shares. The downs had the ups 1,934 to 1,634 on 503 million shares in
Nasdaq Stock Market
Bonds were rallying on news the February
durable goods orders
slumped 5%, more than the 2% economists expected. The 30-year Treasury was up 8/32 to 95 26/32, dropping its yield to 5.54%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's early
Explaining his long-term bullish outlook, Collins echoed a popular sentiment: as long as the bond market remains friendly, stocks will be OK. "I really think that that until the
somehow makes it clear that it's raising
short-term interest rates -- the first sign that
in one, two or four steps is upping the fed funds rate 100 basis points -- the market is still fine, we're still moving forward. It's still a liquidity-driven market -- that money flow continues to come from overseas, as far as we're seeing. And domestically, money flow is fine. You've got $1 1/2 trillion sitting in the money-market funds. So even if we see a decent correction, you've got $1 1/2 trillion waiting to be put in the market."
Wednesday's Midday Movers
Aaron L. Task
Investors worried about the profits of technology giants were greeted this morning by a red flag from
, which said earnings for the first half of 1999 will be under pressure. The warning is essentially a repeat of previous comments made Dec. 10; nonetheless, the mobile phone giant was lately down 1 9/16, or 6.9%, to 21.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
lowered its recommendation to underperform from an already tepid neutral.
was down 1 19/32, or 20.6%, to 6 1/4 after saying
last night it expects to post a second-quarter loss due to lower sales. The six-analyst estimate called for a profit of 7 cents a share compared with the year-ago loss of $1.29.
was down another 2 3/4, or 6.4%, to 40 a day after its profit warning.
was down 4 7/8, or 3.9%, to 116 1/4 after being downgraded to neutral from buy at
Brown Brothers Harriman
However, some tech bellwethers were recovering from yesterday's undressing. Dell was lately up 1 1/2, or 4.2%, to 37 1/4, Cisco was higher by 2, or 2%, to 102 5/16;
had gained 2 11/16, or 3%, to 94; and
was higher by 1 5/8, or 3.6%, to 52 7/16.
, meanwhile, was lately up 3/8, or 1.6%, to 24 1/16 after last night posting third-quarter earnings of 24 cents a share, 1 cent ahead of the 24-analyst consensus and above the year-ago 4 cents. The computer networking company also approved the repurchase of up to 10 million shares.
was up 1 5/16, or 7.2%, to 19 9/16 after saying last night it sees first-quarter earnings of 19 cents to 22 cents a share -- above the six-analyst view of 16 cents. The company, which earned 13 cents in the year-ago period, cited a strong domestic coaxial cable market.
was up 1/4, or 3.6%, to 7 1/4 after posting a fourth-quarter loss of 15 cents a share, well ahead of the 29-cent shortfall expected in the four-analyst consensus. A year-ago, the retailer lost $3.17 a share.
was down 1 3/4, or 24%, to 5 5/8 after posting a second-quarter loss of 33 cents a share, 18 cents wider than the five-analyst view and deeper than the year-ago loss of 20 cents.
was up 5 3/4, or 12/2%, to 53 3/4 after it announced first-quarter earnings of 67 cents a share, 14 cents higher than the six-analyst view and above the year-ago 43 cents.
was up 2 3/16, or 18.6%, to 13 15/16 after recording fourth-quarter earnings of 40 cents a share, topping the three-analyst estimate by 7 cents and moving ahead of the year-ago 32 cents.
was down 4 1/4, or 42%, to 5 7/8 after warning it expects a fiscal third-quarter loss of between 75 and 95 cents a share. The three-analyst estimate is currently for a profit of 10 cents a share vs. 24 cents a year prior.
In other news:
was lately halted down 1 5/8, or 3.9%, to 40 3/16 after the company announced a second round of production cuts. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter lowered its first-quarter earnings estimate to 13 cents a share from 29 cents. The firm also cut its full-year view, to 53 cents from $1.20.
was up 1 1/4, or 20.4%, to 7 3/8 after Morgan Stanley Dean Witter upped its recommendation to outperform from neutral.
was up 1 7/16, or 3.7%, to 39 15/16 after being named
Focus One stock of the week.
was up 1, or 6.9%, to 15 1/2 after announcing plans to repurchase up to 1 million shares.
was up 8 13/16, or 57.8%, to 24 1/16 on word its board has received a proposal from
Warburg Pincus Ventures
and Knoll management, which together currently own 60% of Knoll's outstanding shares, to acquire the rest of the shares they don't own for $25 a share. Shares of Knoll closed yesterday at 15 1/4.
was unchanged at 10 1/4 while
was up 1 5/16, or 23.3%, to 7 1/16 after the firms agreed to merger in a stock swap. MTS Systems will exchange 2.08 million shares of stock for all the outstanding shares of DPS Technology and net share equivalents of DPS stock options.
was up 3 15/16, or 23.1%, to 21 1/16 amid rumors the cosmetic giant is in merger talks, perhaps with
, lately off 3/8, or 0.5%, to 68 5/8. Revlon decline to comment on the scuttlebutt,
was up 1 11/16, or 5.6%, to 31 7/8 after
agreed to take a 21% stake in the international telecom service provide. The agreement is part of a larger deal in which
agreed to buy a 20% stake in Bell Canada's parent,
for about C$5.1 billion. AIT and BCE were each up fractionally.