Weekend Report: On Eve of G7 Meetings, Primakov Speaks

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It's been a quieter weekend than expected. Nobody was fired, no one resigned and no one apologized -- least of all

Yevgeny Primakov

.

The former head of the

KGB

, who has been charged with finding a way out of Russia's vast economic chasm, gave his first interview since his confirmation as premier Friday. Primakov offered only a few specifics of his plans, according to

Reuters

, but said he would concentrate on social welfare.

"There should be no awful discrepancy under which the majority of the people live below the poverty line," Primakov said.

Russian delegates have been invited to the

G7

meeting beginning Monday in London, where they can expect the third degree on economic reform. Ministers will focus on the Russian crisis, but will probably also discuss the greater global economic problems.

In Japan, the

Nikkei 225

opened up 172.93 points, or 1.24%, at 14,089.91 around 8:00 p.m. EDT. But traders expected the gains to be fade because of continuing concerns about worldwide economies and profits in Japan,

Reuters

reported.

Japan also said that in July its current account, which is the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, jumped 53% from a year earlier, according to

Reuters

.

Finally, the

Ministry of Finance

said the correction of the the excessive dollar and the weak yen has just begun.

Despite the volatile action in stocks last week, pundits took their eye off the market's gyrations in weekend commentary. There was a small matter of a 445-page report -- backed up by two van loads of documents and 2,000 pages of evidence -- of sexual encounters, possible witness tampering and abuse of power to be read, downloaded and printed out.

A

CBS News

poll indicates 56% of 680 Americans polled Saturday believe

President Clinton

should keep his job, despite the release of the report by independent prosecutor

Kenneth Starr

on the relationship between the President and

Monica Lewinsky

. Two-thirds of people said Clinton should finish his term, and 57% said Congress should scuttle the matter entirely. However, 60% believed the President convinced Lewinsky to lie, and only 28% said he shares the "moral values every American should live by."

Market analysts have advanced a theory that Republicans will have an easier time pushing through tax-cut legislation this November with Clinton's ability to govern compromised. Saturday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman

Bill Archer

unfurled an $80 million, five-year plan to be funded by the budget surplus.

The Treasury market's rally has been fueled, in part, by declining supply as the

Federal Reserve

eliminated or reduced the size of different monthly and quarterly Treasury note auctions. The President and Democrats support using the projected five-year, $520 billion surplus for shoring up Social Security.

The New York Times'

business section was one of the few parts of Sunday's paper to read to get away from the President's travails. After weekends devoted to features with an intense focus on the stock market, the business section refocused on humanitarian affairs Sunday. It headlined with a feature on former Vietnam war veterans returning to the country where they did battle thirty years previous, only this time as businessmen. "There is a real feeling of happiness on both sides that former enemies can work together in a positive way," said Charles Ray, consul general in Ho Chi Minh City.

Times columnist

Gretchen Morgenson

put a number on the foreign investors buying into U.S. Treasuries and selling stocks: Just $55 billion in net stock purchases by foreign investors in the second quarter, vs. $116 billion in the first quarter, citing the Federal Reserve. The selling should continue because the first half of the Japanese fiscal year ends Sept. 30, when those investors move into cash.

The

Times

also turned the spotlight on

Charles Payne

, head of the newsletter

Wall Street Strategies

. Payne has been praised for his technical insight, although his newsletter is not monitored by rating firm

Hulbert Financial Services

and his rumors can at times be vague, the Times said. Payne has been quoted by

TheStreet.com

, mostly in stock-market updates, and he frequently appears on other news programs.

Barron's

suggests "now may be the time to buy" airline stocks. Due to deregulation, airlines are on their way to posting a fourth year of record profits. The companies, the bulk of which were formerly considered junk by the rating agencies, have knocked down debt leverage from 95% of capital to 60%.

They are also filling planes closer to capacity. The article argues that the penny-pinching renders the air carriers better equipped to handle a recession. "Airlines are a much more rational business," said Harold Levy, co-manager of the

First Eagle

mutual fund.

One airline to watch Monday will be

Northwest

(NWAC)

. Representatives for striking airline pilots approved a contract with Northwest, ending a two-week labor dispute. The company is beginning to call back 31,000 employees furloughed during the strike. Full service is expected to resume in nine days.

Barron's also revisits

Zurich Insurance's

economist

David Hale

, who remains pessimistic about a potential recovery in Asia, as Chinese authorities continue to spend foreign currency reserves to prop up the dollar and Japan, Korea and Indonesia remain stuck in recessions. However, he believes the U.S. stock market should hold up due to a continued decline in interest rates and a rate cut by the Fed.

Not everyone jabbered about the President.

Barron's

Andrew Bary

, calling the President a "sideshow," said hardcore investors are more concerned about upcoming profits and problematic international economies.