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Zippergate leaks unsettle Wall Street

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Some turbulence is expected in US markets today after the publication of the Starr report. The White Office has accused Starr's office of leaking the content on Friday, allegedly in a move to calm markets with the news that there was nothing significant beyond what had been previously leaked. A rumour was circulating in the Street that vice president Al Gore was involved, but the report contained no evidence of a threesome. The maxim that the market dislikes uncertainty proved true again. After Clinton's tearful apology at a White House prayer meeting and the release of the Starr report ("in line with expectations", in Street talk), the Dow rose 180 to 1195, and Nasdaq gained 3.6 per cent to 1642. The New York Times reported that foreigners are exiting US markets, although US investors are holding out because of their 401k retirement plans that are in stock. The dollar has fallen 11 per cent against the yen in the last month. Disney announced lower-than-estimates earnings after trading ceased. Oracle pulled off an increase of 15 per cent based on good results, while Intel improved seven per cent on a forecast of a better third quarter than expected, the result of anticipated ten per cent better US and European sales, compared with the year-ago quarter. Other major gainers were Dell, Microsoft, Cisco, Ascend and Network Associates -- the latter tipped to double in the next 12 months by Lehman Brothers. In fact, the Brothers have their own crisis: bankruptcy talk sent its stock down around ten per cent. The Nihon Kzai Shimbun quoted industry sources that NEC's loss for the six months ending 30 September would be Y10 billion, with sales down seven per cent to Y2.2 trillion. Only NEC's computer division seems to have done well. The problem area is, of course, the DRAM sales decline, and sluggish sales in other areas. This morning, the Nikkei moved up 106 points in the first 30 minutes of trading, having fallen 749 points -- five per cent -- on Friday. In Hong Kong, the opposition leader accused Beijing of giving instructions to the Hong Kong government to support the market -- with an estimated $15 billion of the near $100 billion reserves.®

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