Weekend Report: Nikkei Jumps at Open on Bank-Reform Hope - TheStreet

After last week's gyrations in the stock market, it seems this weekend slipped by a little more quickly than most.

Monday is almost here, and the coming week will provide plenty of news for investors to digest as third-quarter earnings season kicks into gear and a host of first-tier economic indicators get released.

For some this is a long weekend. Tomorrow, the bond market is closed for the

Columbus Day

holiday, though the stock market is open for business.

Over the weekend, congressional

GOP

members and the

White House

neared a deal that would give $18 billion to the

International Monetary Fund

.

Over in Japan, the head of the

Economic Planning Agency

, Taichi Sakaiya, warned in a TV interview that Japan may sink further into recession in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2000. But reports that Japan may be getting close to putting its financial house in order were greeted with relief: The

Nikkei

surged at the open, rising 293.38 points, or 2.3%, to 13,173.35.

According to a

Reuters

report, Prime Minister

Keizo Obuchi

wants to provision as much as 67 trillion yen for the country's ailing banks.

Meanwhile, Brazil is unlikely to lower interest rates from the current 50% until early 1999, Foreign Trade Secretary Jose Roberto Mendonca de Barros said in an interview published Sunday in

O Estado de Sao Paulo

. The secretary said investor confidence was improving after his country and the IMF agreed broadly Thursday on fiscal measures that make up the first step toward an IMF loan,

Reuters

said.

Last week was a decidedly ugly one for the stock market. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

gained 1.5%, but the

S&P 500

fell 1.8%, the

Nasdaq Composite Index

surrendered 7.6% and the small-cap

Russell 2000

swooned nearly 9%.

Names like

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Report

,

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

,

Gillette

(G) - Get Report

,

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

,

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

and

Eastman Kodak

(EK)

, to name a handful, are all scheduled to report earnings this week.

As for this week's economic indicators,

retail sales

is due out Wednesday, the

Producer Price Index

is set for release Thursday, and on Friday, the

Consumer Price Index

is scheduled to be released.

Elsewhere in the news

The headline on the featured story in the Sunday

New York Times

business section screams: "Lusting After Prozac." The story says some time in the next five years, maybe as soon as 2001,

Eli Lilly's

(LLY) - Get Report

patents on antidepressant blockbuster

Prozac

will expire. Lilly and with six other pharmaceutical giants are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the hope they'll come up with the drug that can challenge Prozac.

The stakes: Sales of antidepressants are expected to reach $8 billion in the U.S. about the time Prozac's patent expires. Industry analysts say they expect any new brand-name bestseller won't be more effective than Prozac, but it likely will have fewer side effects.

Also, the introduction of a generic Prozac may lead cost-cutting managed care companies to require doctors to prescribe it rather than the more expensive antidepressants under development.

The cover story in

BusinessWeek

is the magazine's business-school rankings. Topping the list is the

Wharton School

at the

University of Pennsylvania

. Second is the

J.L. Kellogg School of Management

at

Northwestern University

; third, the

University of Chicago

; fourth, the

University of Michigan

; and rounding out the top five,

Harvard

.

Elsewhere in

BusinessWeek

, those out there afraid of a recession in the U.S. next year might take heart at a recap of last week's annual gathering of the

National Association for Business Economics

. The business economists see 1999 this way: Real gross domestic product will rise 2.2%, and consumer prices will rise 2.4%, while the jobless rate will rise just a bit to 4.7%.

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

is the subject of a brief piece with the following info: AMD chips, not those of

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, are inside the majority of personal computers now sold through computer stores in the U.S. In the first three weeks of September, nearly half of all desktop computers sold via retailers used AMD's

K6

chip. However,

International Data

analyst Kelly Henry figures 82% of all desktop personal computers sold in the U.S. this year will use Intel microprocessors.

BusinessWeek

offers up a bullish story on

Tricon Global Restaurants

(YUM) - Get Report

, the fast food company that

PepsiCo

spun off last year. The story cites

Merrill Lynch

analyst Peter Oakes, who estimates Tricon will finish 1998 with operating income of $962 million, an 18.5% increase over 1997.

Technical analysts also get some play in this week's issue. With the stock market's volatility of late, and the long-term outlook murky, technicians are getting more respect, the magazine states. Robert Doll Sr., executive vice president of equities for

Oppenheimer Funds

, is quoted as saying, in part: "In times of market turmoil and extreme volatility, technical analysis can be more helpful, because fundamental analysis, in the short term, doesn't particularly help you."

Sunbeam

(SOC)

is on the cover of

Barron's

this week. The cover has a cartoon of

Ron Perelman

standing before a mirror in a bathroom, and the reflection in the mirror is that of former Sunbeam chief

"Chainsaw" Al Dunlap

. The headline: "Poor Sunbeam." The article asks which is worse, suffering through Al Dunlap's regime or watching Ron Perelman come in to "rescue" the firm.

Barron's

offers a bullish story on drug-store chain

Walgreen

(WAG)

, but the outlook for hedge funds is negative.

Barron's

says hedge funds could face huge redemptions come Dec. 31.

Mutual fund manager John Schroer, who runs the open-end

Invesco Strategic Health Sciences

and the closed-end

Invesco Global Health Sciences

funds, which are up 13% and 7%, respectively this year, offers up to

Barron's

his "Healthy Choices." Among them:

American Home Products

(AHP)

,

AmeriSource Health

(AAS)

, Eli Lilly,

IMS Health

(RX)

,

McKesson

(MCK) - Get Report

,

Medtronic

(MDT) - Get Report

,

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

and

Sofamor Danek

(SDG) - Get Report

.