For a minute there -- with little economic news being released next week and the latest earnings season wrapped up -- it looked like that hold-your-breath event we've come to know as
10K was destined to depend on the simple flip of a coin. But with Sunday-evening news that
agreed to merge in a $16 billion stock deal, you might go ahead and count two heads for a five-digit Dow Jones Industrial Average and one tails against it.
The transaction values BankBoston shares at $53 each; the stock closed at 46 15/16 on Friday. Under the agreement, BankBoston shareholders will receive 1.18 Fleet shares for each BankBoston share held. The companies expect the deal to be accretive to earnings in the first year after the deal closes. Fleet's Terrence Murray is set to become chairman and CEO of the new company -- to be called Fleet Boston and to be ranked as the nation's eighth-largest bank -- while BankBoston's Chad Gifford is set to serve as president and COO.
Bullish control of Monday's session could also depend on market
sentiment or even something as fundamental as overseas news -- remember last fall when everything was about that which was south, east and west?
Though it recently secured a fresh credit line from the
International Monetary Fund
, Brazil's not exactly solved. Market players continue to express concerns about Japan. And what about that
-- not quite the single answer to all of the Continent's problems, eh?
However, news this weekend that Indonesia closed 38 private banks may balance international worries with U.S. market enthusiasm that the country, troubled by a crippled banking system for the last two years, is moving ahead with much-needed reform. Especially since the move means the IMF, which supports the measure, will resume lending to Indonesia.
According to the plan announced Saturday, nine banks will be recapitalized and seven will be taken over by the government. Meanwhile, Finance Minister
considered 73 banks healthy. IMF Asia-Pacific Director
said the bank closings should help Indonesia's currency recover. The rupiah has lost 70% of its value since 1997. The government plans to issue 300 trillion rupiah worth of bank recapitalization bonds by April 21.
Over in Japan, the
was little changed at 15,487.66 in early Monday trading.
announced plans to buy 5 billion yen worth of new shares in
and said it's considering buying new shares in a unit of
Elsewhere, South Korea's
was climbing a handsome 10.56, or 1.79%, to 601.36; Australia's
index was rising 14.3, to 2975.6; and New Zealand's
was losing 2.12, to 2154.42.
In other international news, IMF Chief Economist
told those attending an investment seminar in Paris on Saturday that Latin American economies have a good chance of recovering next year, but not until then. He said the economies of Venezuela and Colombia will likely contract this year -- and that growth in Chile will be below average but still positive.
Still elsewhere, Afghanistan's warring parties -- the purist Taleban militia and the northern-based opposition coalition -- agreed today to form a shared government and exchange prisoners.
Over in Europe, former German Finance Minister
, who resigned last week after a power struggle with Chancellor
, said in his first comments after quitting that the government's teamwork was poor. "Teamwork requires that you watch out for each other and that you stick together, especially in public, and that there is a spirit of teamwork," said the former minister, who, until making comments to reporters today, had remained in seclusion in his house in Saarbruecken. On Thursday,
looked at how the resignation illustrates a growing tension between Germany and European Union institutions.
As for the U.S. economy, the biggest report scheduled for the
coming week is the release of the February
Consumer Price Index
And, in what may be enough to carry last week's oil rally into tomorrow's trading, Venezuela's energy and mines minister,
, said all oil producers are close to cutting the same percentage of their output to boost prices. The comments come ahead of
March 23 meeting.
In company news,
filed an antitrust lawsuit against rival
, asserting that Morris' contracts with cigarette retailers are exclusionary. Last week, RJR decided to sell its international cigarette unit to
for $7.8 billion and to spin off its Reynolds U.S. cigarette business.
In the Papers
made the cover of
The New York Times'
Sunday magazine, with a digitally blurred green shopping cart and the headline: "Earth's Biggest What, Exactly?" The piece muses, largely positively, on what recent broadening endeavors -- such as buying a controlling stake in drugstore.com and offering links to other e-commerce retailers -- means for Amazon's business, not its stock.
dedicates this week's issue to its third online brokers ranking. The newspaper's top four, in order:
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette's
National Discount Brokers
Web Street Securities
. Check out
survey from November.