Recovering smartly from early weakness, equity indices bounded into positive territory at midafternoon and finished the day on the upside.
At 2 p.m. EST, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 30 to 7984 and the tech-flushed
Nasdaq Composite Index
was down 12 to 1594, both measures getting trampled by a herd of high-tech companies that warned of disappointing earnings. But stocks already were off their session lows, and a combination of factors united to send them even higher.
"A couple of stocks were upgraded at midday,
," said Warren Epstein, head trader at
Richard A. Rosenblatt
upgraded Sun Microsystems
to buy from hold and earlier did the same to America Online
Options Buzz highlighted activity in Sun Micro.)
"The Nasdaq started to turn," Epstein went on. "
turned flat, and they just started to run. Also, the
Beige Book was received well, the bond is right around 6%."
The Dow jumped as much as 57.19 to 8076.02 before weakening near the close, still finishing up 13.18 to 8032.01. The Nasdaq fared better, finishing on its highs of the day with a gain of 8.76 to 1615.13. Dell
, down 1 to 87 1/4 earlier, rose 3 3/8 to 91 11/16. Microsoft
, off 1 3/16 to 141 earlier, rose 2 1/2 to 144 11/16. The broad
gained 5.09 to 976.77 and the small-cap
advanced 1.33 to 433.81.
The Fed's Beige Book, an anecdotal economic review issued eight times a year by the 12 district banks, contained its usual soothing porridge of unsurprising observations: a "continued moderate pace of economic growth," good inventories, tight labor markets, optimistic retailers. That thrilled a certainty-starved marketplace, although bonds responded little as traders squared off against the stubborn 6% long-bond yield level. The bellwether 30-year Treasury bond gained 5/32 to 101 14/32 in price, the yield easing to 6.02% -- up from a nearly two-year low of 6.007%, reached earlier.
Peter Green, director of technical research at
, said the fixed-income mattress should offer firm support for stocks as they bounce toward the new year. "The yield is very oversold, meaning bonds are overbought, but there's no negative divergence to take them lower," Green said. "The only caveat is, I'd like to see the small stocks kick in." From Oct. 27 through yesterday, according to the
data tracker, the Dow is up 12%, the S&P 500 is up 11% and the Russell 2000 is up just 3%.
As for the battered technology sector, said Green, "my bellwethers are
INTC. I'm watching those stocks. Those stocks are at support. If they break support, then all bets will be off." Today, AMAT slipped 1/8 to 33 1/16, TXN moved up 1/4 to 46 3/4 and INTC added 3/8 to 78 3/8.
Market internals reflected the continuing weakness of the high-tech side. Nasdaq decliners outnumbered advancers by 2,401 to 2,071 on a healthy 729.8 million shares. New Nasdaq lows continued to top new highs, leading by 197 to 158. On the
New York Stock Exchange
, 1,642 advancers beat 1,251 decliners on 634.5 million shares. New Big Board highs kept up their wide lead over new lows, leading by 205 to 47.
Wednesday's market action
(earnings estimates from
; new highs and lows on a closing basis unless otherwise specified):
was the subject of a negative
Wall Street Journal
article -- but despite wire reports to the contrary, the story wasn't solely responsible for the stock's plunge of 11 3/4, or 15.5%, to 64 1/4 before its 2:55 p.m. halt for news pending. The
rehashed months-old news of large insider stock sales (reported
Sept. 2 and
Sept. 30 in
), but the real story was the chatter late yesterday and today that Anchor might miss second-quarter earnings estimates. Anchor stock never reopened, and the company said it would issue a release this afternoon.
story earlier this afternoon.
Able Telcom Holding
jumped 1 7/16, or 17.4%, to 9 11/16 after it received an unsolicited, $12-per-share offer from
. Applied rose 3/32 to 6.
Zeigler Coal Holding
leapt 2 3/8, or 15.5%, to 17 3/4 after saying it will retain an investment bank to explore alternatives including the sale of the company.
slid 2 5/16, or 9.8%, to 21 1/4 after saying its new-customer growth rate slowed in November and its average trades per customer dipped. Rival online brokerage
fell 4 1/4, or 12%, to 31 1/4.
recovered from a deep midday deficit for a loss of just 7/16 to 34 15/16. The company said late yesterday that it expects to report only a "slight" second-quarter profit, missing the 33-analyst consensus estimate of 43 cents per share, versus the year-earlier 50 cents. Other networkers enjoying a similar reversal of stock-market fortunes today included
, down just 1/8 to 23 5/8,
, up 3/8 to 86 29/32, and especially
, up 1 3/16 to 28 15/16. Not getting a midday boost were
, down 1 15/16 to 43 1/8, and
, down 3/4 to a five-year low of 14 15/16.
Circuit board and connector companies were sharply lower on concerns about the health of networkers, some of their biggest clients.
lost 4 7/16, or 11.8%, to 33 5/16,
lost 3 3/4, or 10.3%, to 33,
lost 4, or 8.6%, to 42 9/16,
lost 2 5/8, or 8.5%, to 28 3/8 and the comparatively unscathed
lost 1 5/8, or 2.8%, to 56 11/16.
ascended 13/16 to an all-time high of 57 1/8 on a
Wall Street Journal
report that new Chairman and CEO C. Michael Armstrong is planning an aggressive program of cost-cutting and targeted investments. Other telecom-services standouts headed higher as well, with
up 5/16 to an all-time high of 44 5/8,
up 1 1/8 to 59 and
up 3 to an all-time high of 80 1/16.
declined 2 1/16 to 75 3/8 after
BancAmerica Robertson Stephens
lowered its 1998 earnings estimates on the Finnish wireless-telecom giant. The loss came despite
reiteration of buy ratings on Nokia and
, which skidded 2 1/2 to 65 9/16. Swedish rival
soared 8 15/16, or 15.9%, to an all-time high of 65 on its addition to the S&P 500, occasioned by the spinoff of
institutional pharmacy business.
gained 2 5/8 to an all-time high of 55 1/4 after President William Johnson was named CEO, replacing Anthony O'Reilly. O'Reilly will remain nonexecutive chairman through September 2000. Bear Stearns upgraded Heinz to buy from neutral and
upped it to near-term buy from accumulate.
, fizzled 1 3/4 to 30 1/8 after
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
downgraded it to neutral from outperform. The firm did the same to Spanish-language broadcaster
, sending it down 9/16 to 67 3/8.
traded at a 52-week intraday low of 26 3/4 but rebounded for a loss of 1 7/16 to 29 1/2 as investors continued to punish the company for yesterday terminating a cancer-research pact with
and ending development of an anticancer drug. Agouron issued a strongly worded press release late in the session declaring that it was "shocked" by the stock's decline from its Monday close of 39 1/2 and reminding Wall Street that the suspended drug was expected to add just 15 cents per share to earnings in fiscal 2000.
Elsewhere in biotech,
advanced 1 11/16 to 43 7/16 on the news late yesterday that it still expects to seek
Food and Drug Administration
approval for its Crohn's disease drug, Avakine.
rose 3/4 to 21 1/2 after entering into a collaborative agreement with
to explore oral delivery systems for two Novartis compounds.
splashed up 2 5/16, or 8.3%, to 30 3/8 after it agreed to buy the 36-vessel offshore energy-support fleet of
for $284 million.
lost 1 1/2 to 31 7/16 and
gave up 9/16 to 31 11/16 after
, a joint venture of IMC Global and
Freeport-McMoRan Resources Partners LP
, adjusted production at two phosphate-crop-nutrient plants.
surged 1 15/16, or 8.3%, to an all-time high of 25 3/16 on takeover scuttlebutt.
fell 2 to 96 5/16 and
sloughed off 3/16 to an all-time low of 16 1/2 on a
Wall Street Journal
sued the companies for theft of trade secrets on the manufacture of advanced photographic film. Kodak gave up 3/4 to 60 1/8.
picked up 2 3/4 to 67 on news late yesterday that its CFD 2-1-4 appraisal well in China's Gulf of Bohai flowed light sweet crude oil and associated natural gas in an initial test.