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Weekend Report: POWs' Release Is Among a Mixed Bag of News

Will traders focus on action in Serbia, Goldman's IPO, Firstar's purchase plans, or Buffett's meeting?

Wall Street won't be wanting for news tomorrow. But it's anybody's guess which traders will focus on most: developments in Yugoslavia,

Goldman Sachs'



Berkshire Hathaway's

(BRKA:NYSE) annual shareholder meeting or


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planned $10.6 billion acquisition of

Mercantile Bancorp

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Although the Serbian conflict hasn't had much effect on the stock market, word that the three U.S. soldiers held for more than a month as POWs have been freed could provide some relief. Yugoslavian President

Slobodan Milosevic

agreed to release the soldiers following negotiations with the

Rev. Jesse Jackson

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, who is urging NATO to cease its bombing and who plans to meet with

President Clinton

as early as tomorrow to deliver a letter from Milosevic.

The soldiers -- Steven Gonzales, 22, of Huntsville, Texas; Andrew Ramirez, 24, of Los Angeles; and Christopher Stone, 25, of Smiths Creek, Mich. -- were flown from Zabreb to a U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany, today.

But there still is plenty to worry about in the Balkans, of course. There is no indication NATO plans to stop air attacks, now in their sixth week, on its own, or that Milosevic will agree to NATO's cease-fire terms. Yesterday, the U.S. imposed a trade embargo on Serbia. Also, in separate incidents, two U.S. jets operating over Yugoslavia crashed early Sunday. Both pilots were rescued.

While it's doubtful to cast a heavy haze over Goldman's IPO, Friday's

news of a

Justice Department

investigation into a potential conspiracy among securities firms to fix underwriting fees still may hurt financial stocks.

At a news conference earlier this evening,

Warren Buffett

spoke about Goldman's offering and some of Berkshire Hathaway's recent REIT investments.

also covered the company's preconference ball game in a

piece this afternoon.

Overseas, meanwhile, Japan's stock market was closed through Wednesday for the Golden Week holidays.

Following Friday's news that Japan's jobless rate touched a record high of 4.8% in March, Finance Minister

Kiichi Miyazawa

said yesterday that unemployment likely will rise further. At an annual meeting of the Manila-based

Asian Development Bank

, Miyazawa attributed the expected rise in unemployment to corporate restructuring. He also said that there were no plans for a supplementary budget.

In corporate news,


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plans to cut 2,400 to 3,000 technician jobs, or about 2% of its total workforce, in a bid to save $200 million a year.




said it received a restraining order from a federal judge to temporarily block the planned $2 billion merger between

BF Goodrich



Coltec Industries

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until July 12. AlliedSignal argues that the combination would violate antitrust laws and breach contracts.

In the Papers


Business Week

, now


. If you're one of those who maintains that ubiquitous bullishness equals the end -- or at least a market top -- gather ye rosebuds no longer. With a snorting bull on its cover, Barron's offers a heaping serving of giddy money managers in its annual Big Money Poll this weekend. Forty-two percent of those polled answered bullish when asked to describe their investment outlook for the next 12 months; for the next six months, 35% tipped their hats to the bulls. Those figures weren't far off from the

sentiment among


readers polled early this evening.

Elsewhere in the weekly, stock picks from Karl O. Mills, value strategist at

Jurika & Voyles

, may give the following names a boost in Monday's trading:


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Seagate Technology



Newell Rubbermaid

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Santa Fe International

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(SNPS) - Get Synopsys Inc. Report


Republic Services

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The New York Times'

Money & Business section, Gretchen Morgenson discusses the shift into cyclical names from tech and health care stocks and how it has led the

S&P 500

to trail the

Dow Jones Industrial Average