It's a newsy midday, but you wouldn't know it from the stock and bond markets.
Leading the news, at long last, is the largest corporate merger in U.S. history:
agreed to be acquired by
for $51 per share in stock and cash -- an amazing $37 billion.
yesterday upped its original cash offer of $40 per share to $45, according to
, but it wasn't enough.
The news sent MCI soaring 4 7/8, or 13.2%, to 41 11/16 by 12:20 p.m. EST. WorldCom was down 1 3/4 to 31 7/16, while GTE was up 15/16 to 44 9/16.
said it absolutely won't raise its $80-per-share offer for
to counter an $85-per-share bid from
Starwood Lodging Trust
. And Hilton continues to maintain that it is "gone" if its board slate isn't chosen Wednesday to replace ITT's board at ITT's shareholder meeting. The prospect of no more last-bid silliness (remember Hilton's absolutely final $70 and $55 bids?) seems to have peeved the arbitrageurs, as ITT was down 2 5/16 to 78, Starwood was down 1 15/16 to 55 7/8 and Hilton was down 1/4 to 31 1/4.
None of the multibillion-dollar excitement is moving the broader market, however, as the prospect of tomorrow's bond-market closure for Veterans' Day has traders holding back and sitting tight. Around 12:20 p.m. EST, the benchmark 30-year Treasury bond was off a mere 1/16 to 99 13/32 in price to yield 6.17%.
With little bond activity, the major equity exchanges were posting dampened volume figures and the major indices weren't moving much. The
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was up 16 to 7597, the broad
was up a little more than 1 to 929, the tech-spangled
Nasdaq Composite Index
was up 3 to 1605 and the small-cap
was up 2 to 437.
"You've got a dearth of economic news due out until the
Federal Open Market Committee
meets Wednesday," noted Dan Baker, vice president of equity trading at
in Tigard, Ore. "The
bond supply's out of the way from last week. Tomorrow's kind of a pseudo-holiday. I don't think there's a ton to be trading off of today."
Speaking of trading, the
early this morning gave up on its quixotic effort to pass fast-track trade negotiation authority. The measure, which would prevent
from amending the administration's trade deals, was doomed to certain failure in the
House of Representatives
. "What we're going to do now is regroup a little bit and find a way to succeed,"
said at a news conference.
Charles Crane, chief market strategist at
Key Asset Management
, said fast track's passage wouldn't have had the huge effect some on Wall Street were looking for, and neither will its postponement. "I hadn't really been focusing on fast track for the growth of multiples," he said. "It could have provided an incremental nudge to anticipated growth, all else being equal. However, events of recent weeks have meant all things are not equal."
The events -- the plunging stock markets and collapsing currencies of Southeast Asia -- will do more damage to multinationals' earnings than fast track could have overcome, Crane said. On the brighter side, he added, "There's plenty of smaller and midsized companies which are almost exclusively domestic, and those companies are going to do just fine over the next couple of years."