Market Update: Dow Catapults Higher; Nasdaq in the Doldrums
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite Index were like Mick and Keith circa early 1980s. Both were doing very different things. Some of it was even painful to watch, like Mick's dalliances with David Bowie and subsequent retelling of "Dancing in the Streets."
Tomorrow, Fed chief Alan Greenspan will deliver his Humphrey-Hawkins testimony about the state of the economy to Congress. Ahead of that, volume was far from record highs and quite sluggish in New York -- a sure sign that traders were waiting to hear what Greenie has to say before making any rash moves. The Nasdaq attracted more attention.
The Dow had rebounded from last week's selloff, turning in a nice bounce. This is the second Monday in a row that the Dow toyed with triple-digit gains. A broad collection of blue-chips rallied, led by upside swings in Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Wal-Mart (WMT). Twenty-six of the industrials were in the green.
Wal-Mart gained $2.76 to $53.16, taking part in a speculative retail rally. Many people are keeping a close eye on this sector to determine how consumer confidence levels are doing. It's the canary in a coal mine of sorts. With retail sales numbers emerging tomorrow and a slate of earnings from many retail names to come on Thursday --chased by Wal-Mart's release on Feb. 20 -- traders were making bets, hoping to sell into the news.The S&P Retail Index rose 3%. Meanwhile, the Comp was lately just under the flatline, reversing earlier strength as support for a rally has dried up in the post-lunch period. And that move came even as biotechnology rallied strongly. After sending biotechs down in the final three sessions last week, traders returned to the turrets and were gunning for a rally in the sector. The American Stock Exchange Biotechnology Index rose 2.9%, a strong performance that stands in sharp contrast to recent action. In the last ten sessions, the BTK, as the biotech index is known, has improved in only two sessions, today and on Feb. 6. Celera Genomics (CRA) was the catalyst for the move, having announced that its research showed that there are fewer than 30,000 genes in the human body. The company also said that all humans are nearly identical when it comes to genetics, with only 800 letters in the more than million that make up the mapped human genome showing differentiation. (The company did not speculate on how Michael Jackson ended up so odd.) Celera gained $6.38, or 15.3%, to $47.98 on the move. But the rest of the biotechs also rallied on the news, perhaps because of their battered condition, but maybe because these new findings will make it easier to find new genetic-based cures for conditions. Prior to Celera's findings, estimates for the number of genes in the human genome ran as high as 140,000. Those companies looking to isolate a genetic needle can do so in a smaller haystack. Your big winners: Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN), a biotech drugmaker, up 10%, to $39.25. Molecular Devices (MDCC), which makes equipment used to measure the development of drugs, gained 9.3% to $77.12. Myriad Genetics (MYGN), which sequences genes in order to isolate possible candidates for treatment, gained 6% to $69.88. Everything else in tech was pretty mixed. A bleak-sounding report from networking equipment maker Emulex (EMLX) threw more blood in the waters, keeping would-be swimmers out of the deep end. This morning, the company, which competes with QLogic (QLGC), Computer Network Technology (CMNT) and big-name Hewlett-Packard (HWP), said that third-quarter earnings would suffer if companies keep deferring orders. Fiber channel products, those gizmos and gadgets that provide higher performance connections over networks, was the key area affected by deferrals. So, Emulex dropped 47.1%. And unlike the last time it fell, back when a fake press release took the company down more than 50%, today's news was painfully true. Rival QLogic lost 26.5%, while both Computer Network and H-P were lower. Couple the Emulex warning with a cautious outlook from Compaq (CPQ) and you've got the recipe for crumbling stock prices. The PC-maker warned that the first half of 2001 would be a rough time for growth, pretty much saying what most industry watchers expect -- a difficult first two quarters. In an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, Michael Capellas, Compaq's CEO, said that first-quarter sales growth would be nonexistent, picking up in later quarters. During 2000, Compaq had a 10% growth rate. And so, Compaq dropped 3.3%, pushing the boxmakers lower for a time, though they had recently turned slightly up. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index was higher by a mere 0.96%. A pair of large-cap tech companies hit 52-week-lows before rallying. Cisco (CSCO) and Sun Microsystems (SUNW) each dropped to new lows as tech continued to feel the heat. But, the pressure abated and both pulled out of the nosedive. Cisco, scraping $27.81 earlier, was up 2.9% to $29.06. Sun, hitting a low of $23.56, was up 1% to $24.88. (SLB) planned $5.2 billion purchase of Sema, a French-British information technology firm, has really done a job to the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index. The OSX, as the index is known, was off 2.6%, due primarily to Schlumberger's weakness. The oil services giant fell 9% after announcing that the Sema purchase would impact earnings. Financials were broadly higher, with insurers taking home most of the goodwill, with banks and brokerages splitting the rest of the love. The S&P Insurance Index gained 1.5%, while the Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index and American Stock Exchange Securities Broker/Dealer Index were up about 1% and 1.3%, respectively. HMOs continued to be red hot, as were other medical-related stocks. The Morgan Stanley/American Stock Exchange HMO Index gained 2.4%, while the American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index and S&P Health Care Index also tracked higher. Back to top
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