The song remains the same, only it's reaching higher notes than ever before. Blue-chip proxies continued to rise into heretofore-uncharted territory, with energy and financial names again leading the field.

A benign retail sales report and good news (actual and anticipated) from technology bellwethers are also aiding stocks. Underscoring a solid advance for major prices, market breadth is noticeably positive.

Coming off

yesterday's record-setting advance, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

has traded as high as 9935.46 and lately was up 158 to 9930. The

S&P 500

was also pushing further into record territory, lately up 19 to 1306.

Crude prices have toned down their recent expansion, but energy stocks continue to accelerate.





(XON) - Get Report

are among the Dow's biggest gainers, while a host of energy plays are giving the S&P 500 a lift. The

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

was up 4.5% while the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

has gained 1%.

Financials such as

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

and tech names such as


(IBM) - Get Report

are giving blue-chip proxies a boost. The latter also helped the

Nasdaq Composite Index

climb 31 to 2437, near its session high.

News that





(MSFT) - Get Report

plan to co-develop a new line of home networking products has both bellwethers higher, giving the tech sector a lift.

Other tech leaders on the rise include


(CSCO) - Get Report



(INTC) - Get Report

. In

New York Stock Exchange





America Online





are posting solid gains, the last on the rebound from big losses yesterday.

Rumors of better-than-expected earnings from

Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Report

gave chip stocks an early boost. But the enthusiasm waned as traders dissected what was (and wasn't) said. A spokeswoman at Micron said company officials spoke at a

Piper Jaffray

conference yesterday but "we did not preannounce anything." Anything of that ilk was merely the deduction of those attending the conference, she said (not to mention the rumor mill, fueled today by



Micron rose as high as 57 3/4 but lately was off 5/16 to 54 7/16. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was lately up a fraction at 379.99 after earlier rising as high as 386.31.

Internet stalwarts are continuing their recent advance. Internet Sector

index was up 10 to 597 and on pace to eclipse its all-time high of 588.19, set

Jan. 11. E-Commerce Index

was up 3 to 112, also near an all-time high.


Russell 2000

was higher by 2 to 403, reflecting encouraging market breadth.

In NYSE trading, advancing stocks were leading decliners 1,821 to 1,011 on a big 518 million shares. In

Nasdaq Stock Market

activity, winners were leading losers 1,936 to 1,652 on 586 million shares.

"It certainly appears we're going to make a move on 10,000," said Jim Herrick, managing director of trading at

Robert W. Baird

in Milwaukee. "It's very bullish right now and maybe we'll flirt with

10,000, but I don't see it this week or next" unless oil futures spike again, which would "distort the Dow" because of Chevron and Exxon.

Regardless, the milestone is important mainly "for the media" and for investors "if you owned those 30 stocks," Herrick said. "In the whole scheme of things, there are still concerns as far as the smaller-cap market and about technology." (

took a look at Dow 10,000's significance in a

feature yesterday.)

In tech, the trader mentioned today's profit warning by

Ingram Micro


, lately down 4%. Additionally,



was down 54.1% after issuing is own red flag.

A Skeptic Acknowledges a Breakout

Still, the action in major averages has impressed even some previously skeptical market watchers.

"Under the surface there are still plenty of problems, but the bottom line is you never argue with a breakout of major indices. And the S&P and Dow are breaking out," said Gary Kaltbaum, chief technical analyst at

J.W. Genesis Securities

in Boca Raton, Fla. "You're getting cyclicals and deep cyclicals breaking out and some financials" too.

Kaltbaum, who expressed skepticism when

last spoke with him,

March 3, remains somewhat wary.

"It's a big-cap game. The Russell is still being left behind," he said. Also, "it seems like the Nasdaq is just going along for the ride. The day the S&P and Dow stop going up, it's going to get hit. A lot of stocks look in big technical trouble," namely


(DELL) - Get Report

and Cisco. Cisco is up 1.9% of late and a big factor in the Nasdaq's advance, but Dell is down 1.9%.

"The market will correct again, eventually," the technician said. "But you ride with what's working."

The price of the 30-year Treasury was down 8/32 to 95 10/32, its yield rising to 5.58%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's early

Bond Focus.)

In currency trading, the euro gained vs. the dollar after Germany announced the resignation of Finance Minister

Oskar Lafontaine


Thursday's Midday Movers

By Heather Moore
Staff Reporter

3Com was climbing 1 15/16, or 7.9%, to 26 9/16 and Microsoft was adding on 2 1/8 to 163 1/2 on news the companies plan to co-develop a new line of home networking products designed to make it easy for home computer users to connect their PCs and share Internet access, peripherals and applications.

As noted above, oil-related stocks were ablaze -- still -- on the continuing rise in crude oil prices, lately lifting on expectations of OPEC output cuts.

BP Amoco


was up 6 3/8, or 6.9%, to 99 1/2;

Phillips Petroleum


, also the subject of takeover speculations, was up 2 5/8, or 6.3%, to 44 5/8; and


(TX) - Get Report

was up 2 3/8 to 56 1/2; and

Atwood Oceanics


was up 1 7/16, or 5.9%, to 25 3/4.

In other news:

Aurora Foods

(AOR) - Get Report

was up 2 3/16, or 16.1%, to 15 13/16 after last night saying it will acquire the Chef's Choice brand of skillet meals for $50 million from privately held

Sea Coast Foods


ECI Telecom


was down 2 3/4, or 6.7%, to 38 3/8 after the Israeli company denied it's in talks to be acquired by

Advanced Fibre Communications


. Advanced Fibre was up 1/8 to 8 9/16.

(INSP) - Get Report

was down 7 1/2, or 8.8%, to 77 5/8 after last night filing with regulators for a 2.8 million-share secondary offering.

LAI Worldwide

(LAIX) - Get Report

was up 5/16 to 7 after

TMP Worldwide


, which operates the career web site

, agreed to buy the company for $63.6 million. TMP was down 2 11/16 to 66 7/8.



was down 9/16, or 8.1%, to 6 13/32 after



said it will not take an equity stake in the company. DaimlerChrysler was up 1 1/8 to 89 1/8. Following the announcement, Nissan said a link with French automaker


is a possibility.



was up 8 7/8, or 5.1%, to 182 1/2 on word its

Yahoo! Germany

unit is joining forces with

Mannesmann Arcor

, Germany's second-largest telecommunications service provider.

Earnings/revenue movers


(AMGN) - Get Report

was up 4 7/16, or 6.3%, to 74 15/16 after last night saying it plans to collaborate with

Praecis Pharmaceuticals

on a new cancer drug and that it expects to meet 1999 earnings estimates. The 26-analyst forecast calls for annual earnings of $1.82 a share vs. 1998's $1.64. The cancer drug that the biotech company will help develop, called


, is designed to help reduce the production of testosterone in men and estrogen in women, thereby curbing the risk of prostate cancer and endometriosis.

Barnes & Noble

(BKS) - Get Report

was up 2 7/8, or 10.6%, to 30 after recording fourth-quarter earnings of $1.07 a share, topping the 12-analyst forecast by 12 cents and moving ahead of the year-ago 98 cents.



shares were splitting in half, falling 7 1/32, or 54.1%, to 6, after last night warning it sees a break-even first quarter, excluding an accounting charge. The 11-analyst outlook called for earnings of 22 cents a share vs. the year-ago 16 cents.

800-JR Cigar


was down 6 1/2, or 42.6%, to 8 13/16 after last night reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 15 cents a share, significantly below both the two-analyst estimate of 49 cents and the year-ago 37 cents. The company blamed pricing pressure and a delayed opening of its new Burlington supercenter.

Fred Meyer

(FMY) - Get Report

was up 3 5/8, or 6%, to 64 after posting fourth-quarter earnings of 69 cents a share, beating the 10-analyst estimate and moving ahead of the year-ago 46 cents.

Nautica Enterprises


was down 1 5/16, or 9.8%, to 12 3/16 after saying it will record additional charges in the fourth quarter and that, as a result, expects quarter earnings to come in around 24 cents to 26 cents a share. The 12-analyst outlook called for 31 cents vs. the year-ago 33 cents.

Rainbow Technologies


was down 3 1/2, or 23%, to 11 3/4 after saying it expects to miss first-quarter earnings estimates because of economic conditions outside the U.S. and Western Europe. The two-analyst view called for earnings of 27 cents a share vs. the year-ago quarter.