With Wall Street's windows pretty much fully dressed and ominous murmurs coming from the Middle East, stocks are contending with some broad-based weakness this midday.
Just as big-cap stocks have been the focus of the recent run-up, they're absorbing the hardest hits as investors seize profits. Around 12:30 p.m. EDT the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 44, or 0.5%, to 8953 and the
was down 4, or 0.3%, to 1135, but
New York Stock Exchange
advancers were nudging past decliners by 1,431 to 1,283 on 294 million shares.
, reeling after a slew of negative analyst moves, was sucking 26.65 points out of the Dow with its decline of 6 11/16, or 6%, to 106 1/2.
Over in the tech-driven world, today's anti-big-cap bias was clear as well. The
Nasdaq Composite Index
was down 9, or 0.5%, to 1883, while the
-- the measure of the Nasdaq's 100 largest non-financial stocks -- was down 8, or 0.6%, to 1331.
was down 1 1/8 to 106 1/4 on downbeat comments from
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
was down 1 15/16 to 73 7/8. Meanwhile, the small-cap
was off just 0.57 to 453.26.
Nasdaq Stock Market
breadth was modestly negative, with 2,065 decliners ahead of 1,719 advancers on 360 million shares.
Hanging in the background is news that a U.S. F-16 fired a missile at an Iraqi anti-aircraft battery after the installation's radar locked on four British jets on routine no-fly-zone patrol. The missile missed its target, but the radar was turned off.
"I don't know if it's Iraqi stuff per se," said Doug Myers, vice president of equity trading at
in Atlanta, of the midday weakness. "It might be a little pullback from yesterday's market. It's just sort of a heavy feeling."
Myers said the strong
Consumer Confidence Index
for June from the
might also be having some influence. "It's one of those things where the economy, they're afraid it's overheating a little bit," he said.
One thing that's no longer much of an influence is window-dressing, the phenomenon whereby portfolio managers rush to buy the quarter's top-performing stocks by the end of the period. "I think that's in the past," Myers said. "I think a lot of that happened in the week of
triple-witching expiration. The four expiration months -- March, June, September and December -- a lot of the repositioning and reposturing that gets done, gets done in the last week before expiration.
"Now it's just business as usual, people trying to pick stocks," Myers went on. "I'm not seeing much of a trend here, it's just people doing the usual number-crunching on stocks and holding their nose and buying 'em."
The bond market was only slightly weak despite a plunge in dollar/yen, which was lately at 138.00 after hitting an overnight high of 142.40. The bellwether 30-year Treasury was off 8/32 to 106 18/32, its yield rising to 5.66%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's midday
Tuesday's Midday Movers
Hambrecht & Quist Group
was soaring up 4 1/2, or 15.1%, to 34 3/8 this midday on renewed takeover talk. And as H&Q's stock continued to jump, its options also were picking up.
Discussed suitors included
, which was down 13/16 to 92 7/16, and
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
, which was down 1/4 to 50 5/8. Merrill, seeking to bolster its technology investment banking business, made a run at H&Q this year, but backed off over concerns about whether H&Q was involved in "spinning" IPOs, according to
The Wall Street Journal
. Spinning involves giving company executives IPO shares and then selling them for a quick profit, allegedly in exchange for investment banking business.
H&Q declined to comment on its stock activity.
As mentioned above, Disney was down 6 11/16, or 6%, after a slew of earnings-estimate cuts.
slashed its annual estimate for the Mouse to $2.95 per share from $3.15 and its 1999 view to $3.50 from $3.75; Morgan Stanley Dean Witter trimmed its annual forecast to $2.92 per share from $3.13 and its 1999 outlook to $3.49 from $3.79; and
lowered its annual prediction to $2.90 per share from $3.11 and its 1999 estimate to $3.26 from $3.48, while slicing its rating for the stock to neutral from outperform. The 22-analyst
consensus calls for 1998 earnings of $3.05 and 1999 earnings of $3.60.
was down 3 5/32, or 34.4%, to 6 1/32 after saying it is restructuring elements of its physician practice management organization and that it expects to report a second-quarter operating loss of $3 million. The four-analyst estimate called for earnings of 23 cents per share versus the year-ago 9 cents.
was down 1 19/32, or 27.1%, to 4 3/8 after saying late
yesterday that it sees a second-quarter loss of up to 48 cents per share, including charges, because of a revenue shortfall.
was down 1 7/8, or 13.2%, to 12 3/8 after saying late
yesterday it expects to report second-quarter revenue between $2.2 million and $2.5 million, up from last quarter and last year. The three-analyst estimate calls for a quarter loss of 63 cents per share, deeper than last year's loss of 58 cents.
was down 15/16, or 12.6%, to 6 1/2 after saying late
yesterday it expects to report lower second-quarter sales and earnings than in it did the year-ago period.
was down 1 1/8, or 10.8%, to 9 1/4 after saying late
yesterday that it sees a loss of between 25 cents and 30 cents per share in its first quarter.
was down 9/32, or 10.1%, to 2 17/32 after saying late
yesterday it expects to record a third-quarter loss of 32 cents to 35 cents per share.
was down 3 7/8, or 8.7%, to 40 3/4 even after posting fourth-quarter earnings of 17 cents per share, on target with the 10-analyst estimate and above the year-ago 13 cents.
was down 11/16, or 7.8%, to 8 1/4 after saying late
yesterday it expects to report a first-quarter shortfall because of industry conditions and customer inventory adjustments.
was down 13/16, or 7.7%, to 9 11/16 after saying late
yesterday it expects second-quarter sales and earnings to come in below last quarter's figures.
In other news:
was down 1 1/2, or 8.1%, to 17 after
agreed to acquire the company in a deal valued at $650 million. Hilton, which was off 1 3/16 to 30 5/16, will split into separate hotel and casino companies, merging the latter with Grand.
broke the news of the agreement in a
story early this morning.
AIDS drug makers
was off 4 3/8, or 13.1%, to 29 1/8 and
was off 3 3/8, or 12.3%, to 24 1/8 following news out of a major AIDS conference in Geneva that showed
is a promising new therapy. Dupont was up 5/16 to 74 15/16.
, which helped develop but only has rights to third-world sales of the drug, was lately down 5/16 to 132 7/16, after trading at 134 1/4 earlier. Also good for Merck was an approval from the
Food and Drug Administration
for the company's new migraine medicine,
Summit Holding Southeast
was up 6 3/8, or 25%, to 32 after privately held
agreed to acquire the company for $33 per share or $191 million.
was up 4, or 11.9%, to 37 11/16 after
The Wall Street Journal
reported that the company is close to reaching a $5 billion merger agreement with
. Star Banc was down 7/16 to 63 15/16.
Nationwide Financial Services
was up 3 1/16, or 6.5%, to 50 1/16 after
began coverage with a buy.
American Locker Group
was up 5, or 18.1%, to an intraday high of 33 1/2 on no discernable news. "I'm as bewildered as anyone," CEO Harold Ruttenburg told
. "Nobody has approached us, nobody has written a report, our earnings won't be out until the end of July."
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