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Market Update: Stocks Lose Shaky Grip on Green in Erratic Trading

Join Pat Fitzgibbons today at 1 p.m. EST for a chat right here on TheStreet.com. Log on by clicking the icon on the top of the home page at the time of the chat.


The market seemed to have finally woken up on the right side of the bed this morning, but the indices' hold on either side of the ledger has been short-lived all morning. Lately both major indices were in the red, though if you blink, you might find them back in the green again, if this morning's erratic pattern holds.

Major Indices
INDEX CHANGE % VALUE
Dow 33.34 -0.31% 10,612.81
S&P 500 2.07 -0.16% 1281.20
Nasdaq 2.81 -0.12% 2289.05
Russell 2000 1.25 0.27% 463.74
TSC Internet 1.74 0.64% 275.52
NOTE CHANGE PRICE YIELD
10-Year Treasury 8/32 106 7/32 4.937%
Market data as of: 11:58 a.m. ET, Jan. 3, 2001




Although the opening bell had the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite Index starting the day in the negative, smelling of yesterday's rotten action, both managed briefly to ditch their red environs for the ever-more-becoming green. Unfortunately, both were lately back on the downside, though the Nasdaq was just a hair's-breadth below the flatline..

Still, it's nice to see the upside again after yesterday's triple-digit losses and the Nasdaq's abominable percentage drop.Yesterday, the Comp had its seventh-biggest percentage drop ever -- not something to be proud of.

Tech stocks got the stuffing kicked out of them on 2001's first day of trading. It was ugly. Today, some of the stocks hit hardest Tuesday were recouping some of those losses.

EMC (EMC) was hit hard yesterday by a negative note on Internet infrastructure stocks by Robertson Stephens but had made an about-face of late as one of the Big Board's most actively traded stocks, up 4.8% to $56.88.

Juniper Networks (JNPR) and Ciena (CIEN) were a couple of the other companies hurt by that Robbie Stephens call, but that in recent trading were making a comeback.

Not everything was happy in techland though. Some more earnings warnings continued to erupt last night and this morning. Efficient Networks (EFNT) said two key unnamed customers hadn't placed orders the company had expected and so it would miss its second-quarter earnings estimates. Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown then downgraded the stock and cut its 2001 EPS view. Efficient lately was lately unchanged.

In the telecom sector, Turnstone Systems (TSTN) said market weakness would result in lower-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter. It was off xx to xx in recent trading.

Techne (TECH), which makes biotech products, also warned about its second-quarter earnings and fell 13.5% to $5.69.

Earlier today, instant-messaging communications firm Tumbleweed (TMWD) warned it would miss earnings estimates. Tumbleweed was falling 69.6% to $3.

PC-makers were up despite negative analyst reports on computer-making giant Dell (DELL). Lehman Brothers cut its earnings outlook for 2001 on Dell to $1 from $1.10. Lehman also dropped its estimates and price target on semiconductor powerhouse Intel (INTC) citing terrible PC sales in December. Dell was able to shake off the call, while Intel was sliding a bit. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index was up 1.7%.

Specialty chipmaker Altera (ALTR) was getting whacked, as was its peer Xilinx (XLNX), after Merrill Lynch cut its estimates on both companies.

Meanwhile, the bears are saying the pain's not over for the Nasdaq and that the tech-heavy index will retest the low of 2288 that it set Dec. 21, 2000. They are also saying that the S&P 500 will dive below its previous low for the past year, to 1250.

Gold star for the Dow, though, which is about halfway between last year's high and low, putting it in a much healthier place. Go, Dow!

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Sector Watch

The Internet secor, which got beaten down by the aforementioned note from Robbie Stephens, was coming back with a vengeance today. TheStreet.com Internet Sector index, aka DOT, was up 0.4%.

Also, TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index was 1.9% higher, with such components as Digital River (DRIV) and eBay (EBAY) moving up.

Energy and tobacco stocks, some of last year's best performers while the Nasdaq fell, were tumbling this morning. Tobacco giant Philip Morris (MO) was moving lower after hitting a 52-week high yesterday. The company's shares were off 1.4% to $45.56.

The American Stock Exchange Natural Gas Index was down 3.6%, while the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index was off 3.5%.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasury notes and bonds are pulling back from the high gains of yesterday as traders seek profits after taking in the strongest rally in Treasury notes since October 1998. There is little cheer in the latest housing and retail data released this morning, but nothing is way off expectations. Signs of the weakening economy are progressively evident. Bond yields, after dipping to lows last seen two years ago, have climbed, marginally so on the longer-term instruments.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note lately was down 8/32 to 106 7/32, raising its yield to 4.937%.

In economic news, the weekly Mortgage Applications Survey ( definition | chart | source ) detected a decrease in refinancing and new mortgage activity. The Refinancing Index fell to 757 for the week ending Dec. 29, dropping noticeably from its 18-month high of 794.1 recorded the week before. The Purchase Index fell to 219.4, its lowest level since March 1998. A diminishing in consumer confidence and income growth are the probable cause of the decline, though some the data could be seasonal.

The BTM-UBSW Weekly Chain Store Sales Index ( definition | chart ) rose 0.3%. The Redbook Retail Average showed December sales slowing down to 2.1%, as compared to 3.3% in November. Heavy discounting and promotion of goods helped lift sales towards the last part of the shopping season. Construction spending ( definition | chart | source ) fell 0.6% in November. Economists polled by Reuters had expected it to be unchanged for the month. The pace of construction spending, which benefits from low interest rates, fell to 4.7%, its second lowest rate for the year, from 8% in October. There were fewer residential and public buildings built, while expenditure on non-residential buildings like offices and factories increased.

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