Cautionary Tones From Greenspan Dampen None-Too-Crisp Session

The market wasn't surging to begin with, but the Fed chairman's musings on asset prices snuffed most of the advance.
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Today you can call him

Al "Buzzkill" Greenspan

.

Sometimes beloved, sometimes an irritant to traders, today the

Fed

chief is playing the role of soggy sock. Major stock proxies tumbled from their slight early-session highs after the release of the

prepared text of Greenspan's speech before a

Kansas City Fed

symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Granted, the buzz the stock market was feeling early on was less than breathtaking, but it was a buzz nonetheless.

"Central bankers, in particular, are going to have to be able to ascertain how changes in the balance sheets of economic actors influence real economic activity and, hence, affect appropriate macroeconomic policies," the Fed chairman said.

"He's obviously not comfortable where the stock market is," said Mario DeRose, fixed income strategist at

Edward Jones

, of Greenspan's remarks. DeRose added, however, that there was "not much meat there" in the speech.

DeRose said he doesn't think the stock market's going to dictate policy, but it's something that's on Greenspan's radar. The fixed-income strategist said a nice little market correction would go a long way toward getting Greenspan to rest easier.

The blue-chip

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was off 24 to 11,175.

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

was having the biggest negative effect on the Dow.

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

, thanks to positive talk from a

Merrill Lynch

analyst, was the most positive influence on the average.

The

S&P 500

was down 3 to 1359.

Peter Green, director of technical research at

Gruntal

, said if the Dow closes below 11,100 today, the Dow could retest the area around 10,880 to 10,875 next week. He said the close below 11,100 suggests that people are selling into strength as opposed to holding onto positions.

The technician is also keeping a close eye on the S&P, which he said has a potential head-and-shoulders top in place.

The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 6 to 2781. The

Nasdaq 100

was up 0.3%. The small-cap

Russell 2000

was off 2, or 0.5%, to 434.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 2 to 579.

In the world of financials, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index

was down 0.3%, while the

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

was down 2.2%.

Louis Todd, head of equities trading at

J.C. Bradford

, said the key word for the market now is catalyst -- and right now there isn't one. He said it's too early to worry about the Oct. 5 meeting of the

Federal Open Market Committee

and also it's premature to focus on third-quarter earnings.

However, the release of a couple of key economic reports next week might be at least a short-term catalyst to move bonds and stocks. The biggest release will be the August

employment report

, which will hit the market a week from today. The Fed, worried about the tight labor market, will have the opportunity to peruse two employment reports before its Oct. 5 meeting.

Online brokers were slumping after

Lehman Brothers

downgraded

E*Trade

(EGRP)

and

Ameritrade

(AMTD) - Get Report

. E*Trade was off 7.4%, while Ameritrade was down 5.8%.

In the Treasury market, the 30-year bond was lately down 20/32 to 102 16/32, yielding 5.95%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's early

Bond Focus.)

Volume in the stock market, which was light overall, could exacerbate price movements in the market today, some market participants said.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, decliners were ahead of advancers 1,574 to 1,123 on 337 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, losers were leading winners 1,884 to 1,605 on 496 million shares.

On the NYSE, 27 issues had set new 52-week highs while 15 had touched new lows. On the Nasdaq, 70 issues had set new 52-week highs while new lows totaled 36.

Meanwhile, among other indices, the

Dow Jones Utility Average

was down 0.2%, the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

was down 1.1% and the

American Stock Exchange Composite Index

was down 0.1%.

On the Big Board,

America Online

(AOL)

was most active with 6.4 million shares changing hands. It was a little softer on the day.

On the Nasdaq,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

was most active with 15.8 million shares changing hands. It was off slightly.

Tuesday's Midday Watchlist

By Tara Murphy
Staff Reporter

(

Earnings estimates from First Call; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified

.)

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

The

Justice Department

gave

AK Steel Holding

(AKS) - Get Report

the green light to continue with its estimated $842 million acquisition of

Armco

(AS)

. AK Steel said both companies' stockholders are set to render a verdict on the deal during their meetings on Sept. 29. The justice department approval gave way to AK Steel awarding

Wheeling-Nisshin

certain rights connected to a kind of stainless steel strip used in automotive exhaust systems applications. This would permit Wheeling-Nisshin, a joint venture between

WHX's

(WHX)

Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel and Japan's

Nisshin Steel

, to continue projects that began through agreements with Armco. AK shares were off 9/16 to 20 3/8, while Armco was up 3/16 to 6 13/16. Shares of WHX were up 1/16 to 8 7/16.

In a joint statement,

CompUSA

(CPU)

and America Online announced plans to connect, literally. CompUSA will install a button on its PCs that enables the units to link up with AOL's Internet service. CompUSA shares were down 1/16 to 7 1/16, while AOL was off 1 9/16 to 98 7/8.

Medtronic

(MDT) - Get Report

was slipping 2 5/16 to 74 3/8 after it said it is buying

Xomed Surgical Products

(XOMD)

for $800 million in stock. Shares of Xomed were jumping 5 3/4, or 11.2%, to 57 1/16.

Viatel

(VYTL)

was declining 3 3/16, or 7.6%, to 38 3/4 after it announced plans to acquire

Destia Communications

(DEST) - Get Report

in a stock swap that values Destia at $18.63 a share. Destia was up 2 7/16, or 17.4%, to 16 3/8.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Quanex

(NX) - Get Report

was up 9/16 to 25 13/16 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 79 cents a share, beating both the seven-analyst estimate of 70 cents and the year-ago 66 cents.

Offerings and stock actions

Rex Stores

(RSC)

was stumbling 3 7/16, or 8.1%, to 38 15/16 after it filed a 2.4 million common share offering with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

. According to the filing, 1.5 million of the shares are being offered by the company, while 900,000 are stockholders shares. The deal is being lead by underwriters

Salomon Smith Barney

,

Credit Suisse First Boston

and

Gerard Klauer Mattison

. Earlier today, Rex Stores posted strong second-quarter earnings of 48 cents a share, beating both the four-analyst estimate of 31 cents and the year-ago 20 cents.

Analyst actions

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

was up 1 7/16 to 63 5/8 after

Warburg Dillon Read

upped its price target to 75 from 65, maintaining its buy rating.

Ameritrade was down 1 9/16, or 6.9%, to 21 1/8 after

Lehman Brothers

downgraded to the stock to outperform from buy.

BP Amoco

(BPA)

was off 9/16 to 109 13/16, while

Shell Transport & Trading

(SC) - Get Report

was unchanged at 48 5/16 after

SG Securities

raised its price forecast for this year and next and repeated its buy recommendation on

Reuters

reported.

Champion Enterprises

(CHB)

was up 3/16 to 9 1/8 after Warburg Dillon Read cut its 1999 EPS estimates to $1.60 from $1.93.

Superior Industries

(SUP) - Get Report

was up 9/16 to 28 1/2 after

CIBC World Markets

boosted its rating to strong buy from hold.

E*Trade was sliding 2 1/16, or 7.4%, to 25 11/16 after Lehman downgraded its shares to outperform from buy.

Gilat Satellite

(GILTF)

was jumping 3 1/16, or 7.2%, to 45 9/16 after

Banc of America Securities

upped its rating on the stock to strong buy from buy.

Hollywood Park

(HPK)

was up 13/16, or 5%, to 17 1/16 after Credit Suisse First Boston initiated coverage with a buy rating and a price target of 25.

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

was up 1 13/16 to 82 15/16 after

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

increased its price target on the stock to 95 from 80.

Intuit

(INTU) - Get Report

was leaping 7 7/16, or 8.9%, to 90 after Credit Suisse First Boston upgraded it to strong buy from buy. The company late yesterday reported a fourth-quarter loss of 26 cents a share, better than the 11-analyst estimate of a 33-cent loss, but swinging from the year-ago profit of 3 cents.

Linens 'N Things

(LIN) - Get Report

and

Bed Bath & Beyond

(BBBY) - Get Report

after Credit Suisse First Boston rolled out coverage of the stocks with strong buy and buy ratings, respectively. Linens was up 3/16 to 33 1/2, while Bed Bath shares were up 1/2 to 27 1/4.

NextLink

(NXLK)

was up 2 1/4 to 100 1/8 after

J.P. Morgan

initiated coverage with a buy rating.

Northwest Airlines

(NWAC)

was off 2 9/16, or 8%, to 29 after

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

hammered down the shares rating to a market perform from a buy.

Powertel

(PTEL)

was down 1 5/8 to 38 after Morgan Stanley downgraded to its shares to outperform from strong buy.

Sapient

(SAPE)

was falling 3 3/16 to 69 3/4 after

PaineWebber

downgraded it to attractive from buy.

Union Carbide

(UK)

was up 1/4 to 59 after

Brown Brothers Harriman

lowered its short-term rating to neutral from buy.

Miscellany

ABC's

entertainment division president, Jamie Tarses, has resigned. ABC is owned by

Disney

(DIS) - Get Report

, which was off 9/16 to 29.

An expanding number of analysts think

Chevron

(CHV)

should buy

Occidental Petroleum

(OXY) - Get Report

as a way of resolving a legal battle between the two companies, the Heard on the Street column in

The Wall Street Journal

reports. A few years ago Chevron lost a nearly $1 billion legal battle with Occidental and is now running out of appeals on the matter, the column said. Chevron shares were down 1/16 to 92 5/8, while Occidental was up 9/16 to 20 7/8.

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

was down 1 1/16 to 66 despite a California judge hacking a product-liability judgment against the auto titan to $1.2 billion from $4.9 billion.

Merrill Lynch's

chief investment strategist, Charles Clough, who in recent years has been bullish on bonds but negative on stocks, recently told his supervisors he's leaving the firm at year's end and hopes to launch an investment boutique, the

Journal

reported. The

Journal

reported that Merrill and Clough said the move wasn't forced and that his supervisors tried to get him to stay on.

Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Report

was off 5/16 to 38 1/16 after lawyers said a federal judge permitted the family of the "Marlboro Man" cigarette ads actor David McLean to continue legal proceedings against the tobacco giant. The family has filed a wrongful death suit over the actor's lung cancer death. The court denied a motion to dismiss the proceedings on Aug. 13. Lawyers said the trial could begin in early 2000.

Toys R Us

(TOY)

was falling 1, or 6.2%, to 15 after CEO Robert Nakasone resigned over "differing views regarding the direction of the company." The toy company said its chairman and ex-CEO, Michael Goldstein, will act as CEO temporarily, until its board can find a permanent replacement.

The Inside Wall Street column in

Business Week

, penned by Gene Marcial, says some investors are excited over

Concord Camera's

(LENS)

prospects. The column says the company is poised to make a digital camera to be developed with

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

and that Concord will also introduce a product that can transmit pictures to a cell phone, a product that's being developed by a major European wireless-phone company. Hewlett-Packard was up 2 1/2 to 105 1/8 after Merrill Lynch was out with positive comments on its new CEO,

CNBC

said.

Middlesex Water

(MSEX) - Get Report

was up 1 3/8 to 31 after Charles LaLoggia, editor of

LaLoggia's Special Situation Investor

newsletter, said he is convinced it will attract one of the major water utilities to take it over, the column says.

In a final item, the column says some money managers believe

New Century Financial

(NCEN)

is a takeover candidate. New Century shares were up 1/16 to 16 7/8.