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Special Event

Millennium 2000: Washington Predicts Bug Won't Bite the Bull

Aired January 2, 2000 - 7:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BERNARD SHAW, ANCHOR: Well, one major Y2K deadline has passed. Now the world is getting ready for another. The next hurdle, the stock markets and whether they are ready for Y2K. Trading is already underway in the Middle East. Markets in Egypt and Kuwait were open Sunday. No Y2K problems have been reported yet. In Israel, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange was closed to make sure everything was OK for Y2K.

Meanwhile in Asia, the Tokyo stock market is closed for a holiday, but the Hong Kong market will open in two hours.

CNN's Lorraine Hahn joins us now with a preview from Hong Kong -- Lorraine.

LORRAINE HAHN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very much, and a happy New Year.

The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong says all systems are go for the market opening less than two hours from now. The exchange has spent nearly $4 million U.S. on Y2K preparations, which began way back in 1996, with the final test conducted January 1st this year.

Well, the mood in Hong Kong definitely bullish. The main market index, the Hang Seng, closed 1999 at a record high. Over in Singapore, shares also closed out the year at an all-time high, and it will be the first major Asian market to open one hour from now, along with stocks in Malaysia, followed by the Philippine Stock Exchange a half hour after that. Markets in India, Pakistan start trading later this afternoon. Almost every other Asian market will reopen tomorrow to take an extra day for Y2K preparations.

Now, one interesting note. Bangladesh was the first stock market in the world to open in the new millennium. That's on Saturday. And Dakkar (ph) has already two trading days under its belt with no Y2K glitches to report.

So we'll see you again in about an hour from now with the first numbers from Singapore and additional updates throughout the night, including live broadcasts from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange once that market opens, and on the Moneyline special at 10:00 PM Eastern and 11:00 AM here in Hong Kong.

Back to you in Atlanta.

SHAW: Thank you. Wall Street will resume trading about 14.5 hours from now, and so far we are told it's all systems Y2K go.

CNN's Miles O'Brien joins us now from the U.S. Y2K command post with more -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, the prediction here is that the bug won't bite the bull. Everything we're hearing so far is that there's a lot of optimism as those markets are on the cusp of opening up. As a matter of fact, there are many analysts on Wall Street who actually believe there'll be a little bit of a boomlet as a result of all this. Some investors who might have been a bit jittery about the Y2K bug on the sidelines, so to speak, watching this weekend non-event, if you will, with the Y2K bug, might actually put some money into the markets, thus continuing this unprecedented bull market.

And while officials here at the Y2K center just a few blocks from the White House share in that optimism, they do remind us that tomorrow morning is the real acid test.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KOSKINEN, PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON Y2K CONVERSION: Tomorrow is an important and significant day here and around the world, particularly in the United States, as we open for business, although it's in a context that I also would remind you that our prediction for some time has been that both the banking and the finance industries, in particular, have been leaders in dealing with Y2K remediation. And so as we have said for several months, we do not expect any significant systemic problems to occur.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: The government estimates the total cost for fixing the Y2K bug at $100 billion here in the U.S., another $300 billion, at least, overseas. Mr. Koskinen was asked the question, "Was it overkill," sort of a darned-if-you-do-darned-if-you-don't question. His response: "We may have made it look too easy."

Miles O'Brien, CNN, reporting live from the Y2K center in Washington.

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