Stocks were looking to move higher this morning as a dearth of economic data and the end of the quarterly earnings season promises a somewhat more orderly week after last Friday's market shellacking.
In case everyone forgot -- what with the typically unbridled enthusiasm stemming from the President's Day holiday (
Happy Birthday, George!) -- stocks did get swamped on Friday. How bad was it? Take a look at some of the major indexes.
Pretty sweet, eh?
But things were looking a little better this morning. The
March contract was up 7.7 points to 1361 with fair value at -2.6, suggesting a strong start to trading. The thinly traded
March contract was up 7 to 3975.
In the news this morning, Dow component
announced it is buying
for $3.9 billion.
Also, two top officials at
resigned last night as a federal probe has been launched into alleged price fixing at the auction house.
Friday's After-Hours Trading
The DAWK flies at night. No, not
, the glass-shattering New Jersey Net. Try
, which rose 1 3/32 to 2 25/32 on 1.2 million shares on
On Thursday, a company press release touted $5.1 million in new business. The individual clients were unnamed, but Daw will engage in its primary business, creating cleanrooms (places with a controlled atmosphere) which are used in the semiconductor industry. Daw has already begun servicing these contracts and expects work to be completed by June 30.
Friday was a good day for the Utah-based company, which rose 55% on a million shares activity. That's more than 25 times 1999's average daily activity of 40,000. Gains and volume continued their growth after-hours. Adding tonight's move to the day session move gives Dax a hypothetical gain of 1 23/32, or 152.8%.
So where's all this interest coming from?
On Jan. 25,
announced that it was spending $2 billion to construct a new semiconductor manufacturing plant in Arizona, which touched off interest in companies that support and service cleanrooms. Two weeks prior to that,
, a much smaller circuit maker, announced that it would be expanding its manufacturing plant.
Companies like Daw, which are engaged in the support of semiconductor manufacturing, have received a great deal of investor attention in the month since Intel's announcement. Since that time, Daw is up more than a full point, or 154.5%.
, which also services semiconductors, is up almost 3 points, or 15.1%.
is up more than 10 points, or 31.7%, since Jan. 25.
, which makes products used in automating semiconductor assembly lines, is up 35.4%.
Some semiconductor service companies like Metron, Adept and Daw, have fairly small market caps and rarely trade on seven-figure volume. Sure, they've popped over the last three weeks and attracted a certain kind of investor willing to take a risk. But, it's worth noting that microcap stocks tend to be volatile and lack the liquidity of larger stocks, so investors are encouraged to tread with care.
Aside from the two notable exceptions --
-- the rest of Island's late-night activity was in "couch-cushion" stocks, those low-value issues that can be purchased with the change from the depths of a
The top-six Island movers have a combined market cap of $837.3 million, which is 590 times smaller than Microsoft's market cap. There are a lot of little guys out there. And not much news.
At the No. 2 slot,
, an Island favorite, rose 7/32 to 2 3/16 on 400,000 shares, trailed by
, which rose 5/32 to 2 7/16 on 282,000 shares.
On the large cap front, things were quietly improving. Microsoft was last up 9/32 to 95 11/32 on 56,000 shares, while MCI WorldCom rose 13/16 to 46 15/16.
slump continued in the dark. After dropping 7 points during the day, the company fell 13/16 to 155 5/16 on 34,000 shares.
joined in the funk, although it was giving back some of its day session gain of 4 1/2. Super Q was last off 1 11/16 to 132 3/4 on 38,000 shares. And
was last off 3/32 to 39 29/32 on 28,000 shares after inching lower during the day.
made up some of its day session stumble of 4 11/16 and gained 1 55/64 to 127 5/8 on 34,000 shares.
Association of Flight Attendants
said after unproductive contract negotiations with
National Mediation Board
has declared an impasse, leading the situation closer to a strike. The flight attendants said that the board asked them to propose pay, vacation and sick leave matters to binding arbitration. If arbitration fails, and the parties don't seal a deal within the 30-day cooling period under the
Railway Labor Act
, the union can strike.
Island ECN, owned by Datek Online, offers trading, mainly in Nasdaq-listed stocks, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
explains how the rules change when the sun goes down in Investing Basics: Night Owl, a section devoted to after-hours trading.