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08/14/1998 14:13:29 Wall St gains early, aided by stable Asia, Russia

NEW YORK, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Wall Street stocks were up but

well off their highs early Friday, aided by stable markets in

Asia and Russia and a surge in shares of blue chip J.P. Morgan

<JPM.N> on reports it may merge with a European bank.

The Dow industrials spiked up almost 100 points in the

first minutes of trade. But by 1001 EDT/1401 GMT, blue chips

were well off their highs, up only 37 points at 8496.

"Our market is responding to positive markets overseas,

especially strength in Hong Kong," said Peter Coolidge, senior

equity trader at Brean Murray & Co.

"There has been momentary relief from the worries about

Asia and Russia...But don't read too much into today. The

(upward) trend has not been established," Coolidge added.

Dealers said they were seeing heightened interest by buyers

looking for bargains, particularly in smaller stocks.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks was outperforming

the blue chips, up 2.07 points at 405.90.

The tech-laden Nasdaq composite rose nine points to 1812

and the S&P500 gained four to 1079.

Advancers trounced decliners 2-1 on the Big Board.

The market paid little attention to the new economic data

on inflation and industrial production, focusing instead on the

progress of markets overseas.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed up 8.47 percent after

the Hong Kong Monetary Authority intervened in the stock and

futures market to foil speculators.

Russian markets were also calmer. Share and debt markets

recovered some ground after several days of panic-stricken

declines. President Boris Yeltsin soothed nerves by vowing not

to devalue the rouble.

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