Off-Hours Trading: U.S. Futures Indicating Strength Despite Overseas Drops

The S&P 500 futures were significantly above fair value even as stocks in the U.K., Germany and France declined.
Author:
Publish date:

Preopen futures action has been looking positive despite declines in overseas trading.

The

S&P 500

futures on

Globex

lately were up 1.2 to 1398, about 5 points above fair value and indicating some strength at the open. The thinly traded

Nasdaq 100

futures were up 15 to 4007.5.

European markets were under pressure, with the U.K.'s

FTSE

down 1.5%, the French

CAC 40

down 1.2% and the German

Xetra Dax

down 0.4%. Stocks fell overnight in Japan and Hong Kong as well.

There was little action in individual stocks this morning.

Occidental Petroleum

(OXY) - Get Report

hadn't traded on its $3.5 billion acquisition of

Altura

from

BP Amoco

(BPA)

, and

CMGI

(CMGI)

was inactive on its $920 million buy of

Tallan

.

Last Night's After-Hours Trading

By Eric Gillin
Editorial Assistant

Traders have fallen for

Response USA

(RSPN)

, and they can't get up.

The company, which makes the kind of personal security devices made famous by the late-1980s commercials, was last up 3/16 to 1 13/32 on 2 million shares on

Island

ECN. During the day session, trades in the company were virtually nil until just before the closing bell, when a flurry of activity drove it up 5/16, or 27.8%, to 1 7/16 on 960,000 shares. Usual day session volume rarely cracks five digits.

The rise in activity has surprised RSPN-watchers like Slava Volman, a trader with

Donald & Co. Securities

.

"I can't find any news anywhere," Volman said. "I've traded this stock for some time now and I haven't seen it like this. A couple of minutes before 4 p.m. and some buyers came in and it shot up right until 4:01 p.m."

Although the company hasn't made any announcements recently, Volman said one possible reason for tonight's late push could stem back to Oct. 25, when Response USA announced that it was recommended for a contract from the city of New York. The contract winner would provide personal emergency response service to the city's 9,000 clients. Volman said the contract was the biggest of its kind, representing a big chunk of Response USA's business. He also said that maybe,

just maybe

, the company got its contract.

"That New York City contract could be a significant percentage of the company. It's the largest contract of its kind in the country. That contract means a lot for them," Volman said. "I think maybe they got that contract."

Response USA was recommended for the contract months ago, and since, no official announcement has been made confirming the company's selection. Volman said the delay was due to an appeal filed by

American Medical Alert

(AMAC)

, the previous contract holder, effectively blocking a final decision from being made.

American Medical Alert CFO Corey Aronin said the contract had not been awarded and that his company was still servicing the old one.

"We have no news pertaining to

the contract. We are currently still servicing the clients," Aronin said. "We submitted a bid protest in November and we have not received the outcome of that."

Company officials from Response USA were not available for comment, but as it stands now, officially, the fate of the contract is still uncertain.

"The contract's in limbo because of the appeal," Volman said.

After receiving a beating that would make the

Marquis de Sade

take a pause to breathe,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

has scrambled to its feet in after-hours. It was last up 1 1/8 to 101 3/32 on 80,000 shares on Island, wiping away some of the blood from a day session loss of 6 1/16, or 5.7%, to 99 15/16.

Elsewhere in big tech, not all names were on their feet.

After last night's shaky earnings report and today's drop of 1 59/64 to 36 7/8,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

inched up 5/16 to 37 1/4 on 36,000 shares.

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

, another day-session loser, gained 5/16 to 131 1/4 on 30,000 after dropping 5 to 130 15/16.

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

can see clearly now, the pain is gone. After falling 2 5/8 to 59 11/16, the company rebounded 13/32 to 60 1/32 on 28,000 shares.

At the No. 2 spot on Island was

Elcotel

(ECTL)

, which rose 13/16 to 6 on 1.4 million shares after gaining 2 25/32, or 115.5%, to 5 3/16 during the day.

Elcotel lit the afterburners after unveiling a wireless phone targeted at Central and South American markets. Many investors are bullish on the idea because the lack of tangible phone lines in these areas makes wireless technology more attractive. Also, these virgin markets are filled with potential customers.

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.