The first thing you need to know is that there aren't as many shares changing hands today.
Lately, near-billion-share days have become the norm on the
New York Stock Exchange
. At the close today, perhaps 700 million shares will have traded. Part of this, no doubt, is because the snow is blowing down Wall Street and many traders decided not to venture across the bridges and through the tunnels to the financial district.
But that isn't the only reason for the thin action. This has been a nerve-wracking month, with the stocks hitting new highs and then falling back to near where they began the month. Yesterday in particular, when shares plummeted at the open and then came roaring back, took a lot out of investors.
"Yesterday was a very emotional day," said Todd Clark, head of listed trading at
in San Francisco. "There was an awful lot of real trading types in the market. Today it seems like there's more thought in the decisions that are being made."
Stocks were lower at midday. A lot of that was because the trouble in Brazil, though its eventual effect on the U.S. may be muted, at least forced people to recognize again that the possibility of trouble abroad still lurks for the stock market. And a lot of that was because of
It was only a few days ago that people were saying that the famously disappointing company was finally getting it right. By the close on Tuesday, Kodak's stock had hopped better than 10% from Friday's close on word that people were buying film like never before in the holiday season, and that Kodak was gaining ground on its nemesis, Japan's
But today the company reported operating results that were, frankly, Kodakesque, and the stock tumbled to its lowest point since last summer.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was lately off 128 to 9222. Kodak accounted for more than 32 points of that. The broader
was off 9 to 1226 and the tech-tumid
index was off 32 to 2285. With
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index up 3 to 509, Internet stocks were holding their ground (if that's what you can call it). The small-cap
was off 1 to 424.
Cooling-off period. Trading range. Profit-taking. There's a lot of talk like that on the Street today.
"You obviously have problems in Brazil," said Peter Canelo, U.S. equity strategist at
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
. "The dollar's weak. Technically, you've come off a very high level of bullishness. A lot of indicators are showing a short-term overbought. There's excessive valuations in Internet issues. These are all good reasons for taking profits, and that's what's happened."
But Canelo doesn't see too much downside for stocks -- he thinks they could sink, at most, to something like the 9000 level on the Dow. The economy remains strong, he points out, and with money supply continuing to percolate, he is bullish on the market's long-term prospects.
Decliners were topping advancers 1,670 to 1,136 on 415 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange. In
Nasdaq Stock Market
trading, advancers were beating decliners 1,909 to 1,749 on a more robust 583 million shares.
Meanwhile, the 30-year Treasury bond was up 17/32 to 102 7/32, dropping the yield to 5.11%, with reports that a certain palindromic hedge fund was buying. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's early
Thursday's Midday Movers
As noted above, Dow component Eastman Kodak was down 8 1/16, or 10.3%, to 70 5/8 after reporting fourth-quarter operating earnings of $1.05 a share, a dime short of the 11-analyst consensus but up from the year-ago 75 cents. The company said sales were hurt by a slowdown in office copying and continuing economic turmoil in Russia.
was down 8 3/16 to 360 3/8,
was down 1 to 68 1/2 and
was down 6 5/8, or 7%, to 90 11/16 after
Deutsche Morgan Grenfell
analyst Alan Braverman downgraded the Internet trio to accumulate from buy. Separately,
was up 2 7/8, or 24.9%, to 14 35/64 after entering an advertising deal with Yahoo!. Yesterday, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's Mary Meeker urged Yahoo! investors to "take some money off the table."
examined the so-called Queen of the Internet's concerns in a piece late yesterday.
In other news:
was off 1 11/16 to 63 1/2 after two of its largest Japanese bottlers,
Kita Kyushu Coca-Cola Bottling
Sanyo Coca-Cola Bottling
, are merging to form a new company called
Coca-Cola West Japan
was up 2 1/16 to 56 1/8 after setting a $1 billion stock buyback program.
was down 9/16, or 8.6%, to 6 after
late yesterday agreeing to buy
for $448 million in stock. Snyder Oil was down 1 3/8, or 10.2%, to 12 1/16.
was up 1 15/16, or 26.3%, to 9 3/8 after Morgan Stanley Dean Witter raised it to strong buy from neutral.
Advanced Micro Devices
was down 3 15/16, or 14.4%, to 23 3/4 after last night posting fourth-quarter earnings of 15 cents a share, falling 4 cents below the 23-analyst estimate but reversing the year-ago loss of 9 cents. The chip maker said shipments of its
product were up 5.5 million units from the third quarter.
BT Alex. Brown
cut the stock to market perform from buy and
NationsBanc Montgomery Securities
slashed it to hold from buy.
reiterated its neutral.
was down 2 9/16, or 5.5%, to 44 after last night reporting first-quarter earnings of 78 cents a share, 8 cents higher than the 18-analyst outlook and above the year-ago 33 cents. The company said it sold 519,000
in the quarter and that while it sees a year-on-year gain in the second quarter, it expects a drop from the first quarter.
Salomon Smith Barney
downgraded Apple to neutral from buy, while
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
upgraded it to buy from market perform.
was down 1 1/4, or 7.9%, to 14 1/2 after late yesterday posting third-quarter earnings of 87 cents a share, 2 cents below the four-analyst call but above the year-ago 63 cents.
was down 13/16, or 8.2%, to 9 1/8 after last night reporting a third-quarter loss of 4 cents a share, below the two-analyst prediction of a profit of 4 cents and the year-ago profit of 11 cents.
was down 4 11/16, or 31.8%, to 10 1/16 after late yesterday saying it will post fourth-quarter earnings of 8 cents to 10 cents a share, below the two-analyst expectation of 20 cents and the year-ago 15 cents.
was up 3 1/2, or 13.2%, to 29 15/16 after late yesterday reporting third-quarter earnings of 19 cents a share, 2 cents higher than the nine-analyst view and above the year-ago 11 cents.
was down 1, or 11.3%, to 7 7/8 after last night lowering its 1999 earnings estimate to 60 cents to 90 cents a share. The three-analyst view called for $1.69. The company, which earned $2.05 last year, blamed "extremely difficult" trading conditions in the wool business.
Whole Foods Market
was down 11 3/8, or 24.9%, to 34 5/16 after late yesterday saying it expects first-quarter earnings of 45 cents to 50 cents a share -- below the 10-analyst outlook of 58 cents. In the year-ago period, the company made 48 cents. Whole Foods cited higher-than-expected direct store costs and higher general and administrative costs at the regional and national levels. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter cut the stock to neutral from outperform, BT Alex. Brown lowered it to buy from strong buy, and
downgraded it to accumulate from buy.