Off-Hours Trading: Futures Pointing Higher After Friday's Pummeling - TheStreet

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

S&P 500

March contract was up 7.7 points to 1361 with fair value at -2.6, suggesting a strong start to trading. The thinly traded

Nasdaq 100

March contract was up 7 to 3975.

In the news this morning, Dow component

SBC Communications

(SBC)

announced it is buying

Sterling Commerce

(SE) - Get Report

for $3.9 billion.

Also, two top officials at

Sotheby's

(BID) - Get Report

resigned last night as a federal probe has been launched into alleged price fixing at the auction house.

Friday's After-Hours Trading

By Eric Gillin
Editorial Assistant

The DAWK flies at night. No, not

Darryl Dawkins

, the glass-shattering New Jersey Net. Try

Daw Technologies

(DAWK)

, which rose 1 3/32 to 2 25/32 on 1.2 million shares on

Island

ECN.

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,

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

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,

Anadigics

(ANAD)

, 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%.

Metron Technology

(MTCH) - Get Report

, which also services semiconductors, is up almost 3 points, or 15.1%.

ATMI

(ATMI)

is up more than 10 points, or 31.7%, since Jan. 25.

Adept Technology

(ADTK)

, 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 --

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

and

MCI WorldCom

(WCOM)

-- 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

La-Z-Boy

.

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,

PharmaPrint

(PPRT)

, an Island favorite, rose 7/32 to 2 3/16 on 400,000 shares, trailed by

MedCare Technologies

(MCAR)

, 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.

Yahoo!'s

(YHOO)

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.

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

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

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

was last off 3/32 to 39 29/32 on 28,000 shares after inching lower during the day.

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

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.

The

Association of Flight Attendants

said after unproductive contract negotiations with

US Airways

(U) - Get Report

, the

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.

.

Confused?

TheStreet.com

explains how the rules change when the sun goes down in Investing Basics: Night Owl, a section devoted to after-hours trading.