Wall Street's newsreel was unusually quiet Tuesday morning, but the rumor mill was deafening -- and positive.
The buzz about interest-rate cuts and optimism about
post-close earnings report seemed incentive enough for a morning rally. After closing with modest gains yesterday, U.S. stocks were readying for an upside open.
Rumors that the
Federal Reserve could
cut interest-rates -- as soon as this week -- have escalated since last Friday's weak employment report. Some seasoned market pros were even trying to read the meaning of closed-door meeting a among Fed governors Monday, even though such meetings are regularly scheduled events.
The absence of an expected earnings warning from the U.K.'s largest phone-equipment maker
could be generating some good vibes about Motorola's earnings. Marconi's "news" was helping to lift European telecom stocks, which were, in turn, driving a rally on the major European indices. U.S. futures and the major European indices were bidding one another higher.
At 7:51 a.m.,
S&P 500 futures, which track the broad market, were up 7.6 points, about 13 points above
fair value as calculated by
, pointing to a powerful open.
futures, which track big-cap tech stocks, were up 29 points, about 31 points above fair value, as calculated by
, so expect tech to climb at this morning's open. Thinly traded
Dow futures were up 70 points. Fair value is usually a good gauge of how stocks will trade in early action.
Nearly all things tech and telecom were trading higher in preopen trading this morning -- among them, Motorola and its rival
, communications giant
, PC titan
and chip goliath
So much attention is focused on Motorola because it kicks off the tech-earnings season today, and because of grave concerns over liquidity at the company. Motorola -- the first of the three major mobile-phone makers to report -- has lowered its estimates for the quarter twice already, and Friday, concerns over a possible
liquidity crisis surfaced, forcing the company to issue a denial. Some say it could be the company's worst quarter in 16 years. Analysts are expecting a first-quarter loss of between 1 and 14 cents, compared with a profit of 20 cents last year, according to
Thompson Financial/First Call
The bulls are hoping Motorola will say liquidity is OK -- and that it's not at risk of becoming another
. Even better would be some sign that it's beginning to see a light at the end of the earnings tunnel. After PC-maker
confirmed its first quarter earnings targets last week, and Internet retailer
raised its first-quarter performance targets yesterday, some think the earnings disaster of recent months could be bottoming out. And that's the only thing that will allow the market to sustain gains, market watchers say.
What little news was floating over the airwaves this morning wasn't too hot, but investors seemed to be cheerfully shrugging it off. Several telecoms announced new layoffs, and chipmaker
warned it would be missing its first-quarter targets.
Marconi was among those announcing layoffs -- the company said it would let go 3,000 workers in the next 12 months. And it wasn't alone. Siemens, the No. 2 mobile phone maker in Europe, said it plans to ditch 2,000 workers, and Swisscom said it will cut additional jobs after 2000 its earnings fell.
Meanwhile, Cypress's warning wasn't it's first this quarter. The company said this morning its first quarter revenues and profits before goodwill would fall below analyst targets.
Dan Niles delivered a dour note on the chip sector yesterday and cut his second quarter earnings estimates on Cypress, among others. In the report, Niles said he expects 2001 to be the worst year ever for chip stocks, with revenues set to fall 18%-20%. The
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Sector
was down xx%.
And wireless communications maker
could get the saw this morning. The stock was the subject of selling in after-hours trading last night despite
reporting earnings that met analyst estimates. Sawtek supplies firms like Motorola and
with electronic components that enhance the quality of wireless phone transmissions. The firm reported that its second-quarter earnings fell 26% from the year ago period to $9.3 million, or 22 cents per share, in the quarter -- in line with Wall Street's consensus estimates. Back in February, the company said it expected to earn between 22 cents and 24 cents per share, lower than its previous projection of 29 cents per share.
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The major European indices turned higher as they approached midsession, lifted by improving preopen sentiment in the U.S. on the heels of Amazon.com's earnings surprise. Strength in telcos and oil stocks countered losses in banking stocks, and the
was lately up 34.3 to 5635.8. Across the Channel, the Paris
was gaining 55.1 to 5194.8. Frankfurt's
was gaining a meatier 88.6 points, putting the index at to 5787.5.
The euro was lately trading at $0.8945.
Asian markets tanked, again, overnight. Continuing disappointment over, and a lack of confidence in, an emergency economic aid package released by the Japanese government, Japanese investors sold stocks for a second day. Tokyo's
slumped 542, or 4.05%, to close at 12,841.8. Hong Kong's stock market also suffered losses, and the key
lost 184.5 to end the day's trading at 12,202.1.
The dollar was trading at 124.5 yen.
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