- Pre-Market Indications

Thursday, March 20, 2008 Pre-Market Report Pre-Market Report

NEW YORK ( -- Stocks looked poised to rebound early Thursday as oil prices dropped below the $100 a barrel mark and Bear Stearns' largest shareholder pledged to push for a better deal for the battered Wall Street firm..

Less than three hours before the market open, Nasdaq and S&P futures were higher, following a sharp sell-off in major indexes on Wednesday.

Oil prices plunged as low as $99.59 in early trading before rebounding slightly.

A barrel of light, sweet crude recently traded down $1.90 to $100.64 in electronic trading.

The slide in oil prices started Wednesday after a government reading showed demand for petroleum products is waning in the face of record high prices.

British investor Joseph Lewis, who with more than a 10% stake in Bear Stearns through his various investment vehicles is the largest shareholder at Bear Stearns, announced in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Wednesday that he may push Bear Stearns (BSC, Fortune 500) as well as other third parties to consider other deals and alternatives to the proposed fire-sale purchase of the firm by JP Morgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) for only $2 a share.

Lewis' filing showed his Nivon investment unit snapped up 569,000 shares of Bear Stearns on March 13 for $55.13 a share, the day before share prices started to collapse. The deal for Bear Stearns, brokered by the Federal Reserve, was announced March 16.

In other corporate news, No. 2 book retailer Borders Group (BGP) announced early Thursday that it is looking at a possible sale of the company and that it has suspended paying a dividend in an effort to preserve capital for operations and strategic initiatives. Shares of Borders gained 2.6% in early Frankfurt trading.

Athletic apparel and equipment maker Nike (NKE, Fortune 500) reported better-than-expected earnings after the close Wednesday on strong overseas sales. Shares gained 4% in after-hours trading.

Earnings are due Thursday before the open from freight and package delivery company FedEx (FDX, Fortune 500) as well as No. 1 book retailer Barnes & Noble (BKS, Fortune 500).

In global trade, European shares fell in early trading after Swiss bank Credit Suisse (CS) warned it would not be profitable in the first quarter.

Asian stocks finished mixed. Markets in Japan were closed for a holiday.

FTSE 100-38.20-0.69%5,507.40
CAC 40-28.31-0.62%4,527.64
HANG SENG-758.72-3.47%21,108.22
NIKKEI 225+296.28+2.48%12,260.44

U.S. Dollar vs Euro-0.0183-1.17%1.5456

U.S. Dollar vs Yen+1.1400+1.16%0.0100

U.S. Dollar vs UK £-0.00-0.14%1.98
Open Closed

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