The futures are singing a song of modest morning strength today, against a backdrop of light news and muddled international markets.
lately were up 1.7 to 1400.4, about 5 points above fair value and indicating a positive open. The thinly traded
futures were going the other way, off 18.5 to 3985.
There was no clear theme emerging from European trading, with the U.K.'s
up 1.2%, the German
unchanged and the French
down 0.6%. This after a harsh Asian session that saw Japan's
drop 1% and Hong Kong's
Market-moving U.S. corporate announcements have been in short supply thus far, and preopen trading has been nearly silent.
Last Night's After-Hours Trading
Little leaguers stepped to the plate in today's postclose activity.
Eight of the top-10 stocks in tonight's most-active chart from
ECN have market caps below $100 million.
Let's start with the notable exceptions.
Batting fifth, with a market-cap of $1.3 billion, was
which fell 3/4 to 18 1/4 on 340,000 shares. During today's day-session, the company rose 2 5/8, or 15%, to 20 1/8 on 3.2 million shares, which extended its run of heavier-than-usual volume for a sixth day. (Not a
-esque streak, but it is what it is.) In fact, today's close was Talk.com's highest since May 1998.
Last year's average session volume for Talk.com was 1.2 million shares. But, over the last six days, volume has averaged 2 million shares, staying thick in the wake of the company's earnings release on Feb. 8.
On that date, the Web-based telco announced fourth-quarter earnings of 25 cents a share, besting the
First Call/Thomson Financial
estimate by a penny and killing last year's loss of $1.56.
inside something different now.
Tonight, after the bell, the company announced that it would invest $100 million in
, kicking off a joint venture focused on the creation of wireless networking products. Intel's stake in the company is 1.4 million shares, or 1.5% of Symbol's common stock.
Now investors want to be inside Intel. The chipmaker rose 1 3/4 to 111 9/16 on 54,000 shares on Island.
Tonight's book on Intel was pretty ridiculous, however, and that move should be taken lightly. There were 13 buy orders below 86 and 23 sell orders above 125. The spread was rather wide, which increases volatility.
Rounding out Island's top-10 was
, which had a market cap of $423 million as of today's close. Tonight's loss of 1/8 to 10 7/16 on 116,000 shares capped a difficult day for the biopharmaceutical company.
Genelabs fell 3 1/16, or 22.5%, to 10 9/16 in heavy trading despite announcing that clinical trials of its Lupus drug produced positive results. One possible reason for the drop was that these results didn't impress investors.
The company's test results showed that patients treated with the drug had a 35% response rate vs. those patients who took a placebo. Incidents of flares, which is a pretty severe symptom of lupus, were 24% lower among those who took Genelab's lupus drug.
, something of an ECN fan favorite, batted leadoff on tonight's most-actives chart from Island. It edged up 3/16 to 1 15/32 on 1.1 million shares after gaining 1/4 to 1 9/32 during the day session. The company, which has a market cap of $63 million, was one of Nasdaq's most-actively traded issues.
Class-B shares in
American Pacific Bank
traded up 7/32 to 3 11/16 on volume of 900,000. The bank, chartered by the state of Oregon, has been picking up steam this month, with 123,270 shares traded during an average February day session. Today's volume was 553,700. Compare that to 1999's average daily volume of 5,190 shares.
With the exception of Talk.com's billion-dollar valuation and Genelabs market cap, the rest of Island's active stocks were puny. At the No. 3 spot was
and its cap of $14 million.
batted in the cleanup spot. It has a market cap of $22.4 million.
As usual, microcaps dominated after-hours volume. The reason is simple. With little postclose (or day session, for that matter) institutional movement in these stocks, individual investors can move shares quickly. Thus, volume is fairly liquid even though trades are small. That's the case with Imaging Technologies, which trades fast and furiously after-hours as individuals jump in and out of their positions.
Island ECN, owned by Datek Online, offers trading, mainly in Nasdaq-listed stocks, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
MarketXT, formerly Eclipse Trading, offers after-hours trading to retail clients of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's (MWD) Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Online, Mellon Bank's (MEL) Dreyfus Brokerage Services, Mydiscountbroker.com and clients of Salomon Smith Barney. Clients can trade 200 of the most actively traded New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market issues, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST Monday through Thursday.
explains how the rules change when the sun goes down in Investing Basics: Night Owl, a section devoted to after-hours trading.