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Special Event

Millennium 2000: New Year Markets

Aired January 3, 2000 - 7:00 a.m. ET

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

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: The Y2K moment of truth is now here, with much of the world returning to work after the new year break and logging on to computers and finding out if the bugs have really been exterminated.

The stock markets in Asia ran nearly glitch-free overnight, and trading is now underway in some European cities. Let's go to one of them right now.

CNN's Todd Benjamin is in London.

Todd, what's going on?

TODD BENJAMIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Leon.

This market's closed until tomorrow, but trading is underway in Frankfurt and Paris, and traders are in a very good mood. There's relief that there are no Y2K glitches.

As you're well aware, before trading began in 2000, there was a lot of apprehension that the Y2K bug could bite very hard. As it turns out, it turned out to have no teeth at all. That's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) really to a lot of good -- very good preparation in places like Frankfurt, and other places like Paris. In fact, all through Europe there's been a lot of preparation to make sure that everything would run smoothly.

It's estimated globally between $300 billion and $600 billion was spent to make sure that it would be Y2K problem-free. So far everything is running smoothly, and that's causing a big relief in these markets.

Right now, you have the Paris market in record territory once again. Let's go to these numbers for you a second. There you can see that Paris is up 131 points at 6090, breaking through the 6000 barrier, after gaining 51 percent last year.

And the DAX is also having a very good day. The DAX is up almost one and a half percent. There you see it up 95 points at 7054, breaking through the 7000 barrier for the first time. As I mentioned, London is closed, Zurich is closed, but they will both be back in action tomorrow. And if Paris and the DAX are any indication in Frankfurt, both of them should also have strong openings.

Back to Atlanta.

COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Todd.

Asian financial markets not only ran smoothly overnight, they set new records as investors went on a buying spree.

CNN's Andrew Stevens has a report from Hong Kong.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three days into the new year, and there was still plenty to celebrate. And this time, it was East Asia's stock markets. Hong Kong was the first major financial market to open in stores in the new millennium, and operations went without a hitch.

From the opening bell, investors piled into the markets, singling out tech stocks to lead the benchmark index to another record high.

HOWARD GORGES, DIRECTOR, SOUTH CHINA BROKERAGE: What we're seeing today is the return of some of the institutions and traders who laid off trading for a few days before the year end because of a possible Y2K problem coming back into the market.

STEVENS: It wasn't just Hong Kong. All four markets opened in East Asia were declared Y2K safe, and investors wasted no time in jumping in.

Apart from the Hang Seng's record high, there was also a record close in Singapore -- stocks up there more than four percent, while neighboring Kuala Lumpur stacked on more than two and a half percent.

Only the Philippines stayed away from the party, and that wasn't so much Y2K problems as domestic economic concerns.

Analysts weren't surprised by the strong start. The Asian recovery story still has plenty of distance to run.

SADIQ CURRIMBHOY, REGIONAL STRATEGIST, MERRILL LYNCH: Certainly we thought that there would be a lot of strength going into the new year. Some of our global macro-momentum (ph) indicators are showing that the growth is well above trend.

STEVENS: Even the threat of higher interest rates in the U.S. this year is unlikely to undermine Asia's market rally.

GORGES: We could falter on a U.S. interest rate rise, but I don't think it's going to kill this market.

STEVENS (on camera): There still may be other Y2K-related problems later this year, but for now, Asian investors seem to be intent on making sure they don't miss out on this latest Asian stock market rally.

Andrew Stevens, CNN Financial News, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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