Dow Moves to Plus Side as Nasdaq Maintains Record Pace

Yesterday's pause forgotten, the Nasdaq Comp is looking for its eighth record in nine sessions.
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Major proxies were narrowly mixed at midday, as investors tried to decipher the code of the latest

Producer Price Index

. With the exception of technology stocks, which, much like

Queen

, have

no time for losers, strength was scattered and somewhat masked, across a number of sectors.

Though the headline number on the October PPI fell 0.1%, ducking under an expected 0.1% gain, the core rate, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.3%, skipping past the expected 0.1% rise, though down from last month's attention-grabbing 0.8% gain. The mixed numbers were having a glass half-empty/half-full effect on the market.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

spent the better part of the morning bouncing under its opening mark but was lately up 35 to 10,652, while the broader

S&P 500

was up 13, or 1%, to 1379. The small-cap

Russell 2000

was up 4 to 450.

Among those who opted for a upbeat view of today's action was Barry Berman, head of stock trading at

Robert W. Baird

. "We've had a heck of a run for the last week and a half. Coming off that we are not seeing a big selloff and no big follow through," from yesterday, he said.

All that was seen of the

Nasdaq Composite Index

this morning was the dust it kicked up as it shot up 61, or 2%, to 3187. The Comp was powered at the top by

NextCard

(NXCD)

and

Commerce One

(CMRC)

. NextCard was helped by a reiterated rating from

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

, among other

things.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index, which yesterday joined the Nasdaq in taking a break from its furious tarantella of consecutive records, was dancing again. The measure was on pace for another all-time high with its gain of 10, or 1.2%, to 849.

Healthy earnings from

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

reported

last night were also lending a little extra confidence to the technology sector as well.

Financials weren't having any fun. The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

was sagging 2% as interest-rate sensitive stock slid collectively, though not steeply, lower. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank

index was falling 1.1%

As for the PPI's implications for next Tuesday's

Fed

meeting, Berman says the consensus is that a 25-basis-point rate hike was in the market, but beyond that, it's anyone's guess. "It depends on how the Fed views that, but clearly there is no panic" today, he said. "Every time you get a selloff, and doom-and-gloom-sayers, and the market finds support rather quickly, that just gives more confidence" going forward, said Berman.

But the bears have reasons for focusing solely on the empty portion of the glass too. A report from David Orr, chief economist at

First Union

, says the most important figure in today's report was the 0.4% jump in the core intermediate stage index. Orr says it has a "very good record of tracking periods of Fed tightening." Orr also mentions Fed head

Alan Greenspan's

past opinions of the intermediate-term core rate as a credible gauge.

Oil stocks continued to rise after Venezuelan Energy and Mines Minister Ali Rodriguez said

OPEC

would probably extend oil production cuts beyond March to counterbalance a drop in oil demand in the second quarter. December crude oil futures were lately at $24.61. Strength in oil stocks was visible in

Royal Dutch Petroleum

(RD)

, up 2.7%, and

Sunoco

(SUN) - Get Report

, lately rising 4.3%.

Even

Tosco

(TOS)

, which reported an explosion at a refinery in Los Angeles this morning (see below), was rising 4%.

BP Amoco

(BPA)

was up 2.4%, helped additionally by an announcement of a $1.1 billion

outsourcing pact with

PricewaterhouseCoopers

. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service

index was lately rising 2.6%, while the

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas

index was up 1.5%.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, decliners were leading advancers 1,501 to 1,411 on 613 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

leaders were beating laggards 2,011 to 1,721 on 878 million shares. New highs trailed new lows 48 to 88 on the Big Board, while on the Nasdaq, new highs were leading new lows 171 to 59.

The benchmark 30-year Treasury was down 14/32 to 100 9/32, its yield rising to 6.10%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's early

Bond Focus.)

Wednesday's Midday Watchlist

By Tara Murphy
Staff Reporter

(

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

.)

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Amazon.com and NextCard set a strategic relationship under which NextCard will be the exclusive provider of a co-branded Amazon.com NextCard credit card. Amazon also has obtained a warrant to acquire up to 4.4 million shares of NextCard stock, a stake of about 9.9%. Amazon was in the news yesterday after saying it was launching four online stores.

TheStreet.com/nytimes.com

joint newsroom wrote about the move in a story

yesterday.

TSC's

Herb Greenberg

also wrote about the news in a column

this morning. NextCard soared 16 15/16, or 53%, to 48 5/8 while Amazon.com added 2 1/4 to 73.

CNet

(CNET) - Get Report

and

Commerce One

(CMRC)

said they were in a deal to provide content for a portal. The alliance will provide CNET technology through a Commerce One market site. CNet was adding 1 7/16 to 51 1/4, while Commerce One was jumping 15 5/16 to 336 1/2.

A new joint venture company involving an Irish consortium and

GPU International

(GPU)

said it planned to compete in Ireland's deregulated electricity market beginning in February. The company, known as

ePower

, said it would invest $264 million over the next three years. GPU shares were slipping 1/4 to 32 13/16.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Baan

(BAANF)

, the Dutch business software firm, said it expects to return to profitability in 2000 and that sales and license revenue were improving in the fourth quarter,

Reuters

reported. Baan shares were climbing 7/8, or 6.9%, to 13 5/8.

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

after the close posted first-quarter earnings of 24 cents a share, which beat the 32-analyst estimate by a penny and came in above the year-ago 17 cents. Yesterday Cisco said it was purchasing rival

Aironet

(AIRO)

in a $799 million stock swap.

TheStreet.com/nytimes.com

joint newsroom wrote about Cisco's

earnings and its

acquisition of Aironet in stories yesterday. Shares of Cisco were popping 4 13/16, or 6.4%, to 78 15/16.

CompUSA

(CPU)

said it has adjusted its first quarter 2000 earnings downward, to reflect the sale of certain extended service plans. The company is now posting a revised first-quarter loss of 4 cents a share, a penny more than previously stated. CompUSA shares were sliding 1/8 to 5 3/4.

Federated Department Stores

(FD)

reported third-quarter earnings of 56 cents a share, beating the 18-analyst estimate of 53 cents a share and the year-ago 50 cents a share. Federated shares were mounting 1 3/8 to 43.

Kmart

(KM)

reported third-quarter earnings of nine cents a share, missing the 13-analyst estimate by a penny, but up from a year-ago 8 cents. Shares of Kmart were edging up 1/4 to 9 13/16.

New Plan Excel Realty

(NXL)

reported third-quarter funds from operations of 51 cents a share, missing the single-analyst estimate of 53 cents and the year-ago 54 cents a share. New Plan Excel shares were sliding 1/16 to 16 1/2.

Oneida

(OCQ)

posted third-quarter earnings of 60 cents a share, beating the single-analyst estimate by a penny and up from the year-ago 34 cents. Shares of Oneida were falling 3/16 to 23 13/16.

Payless ShoeSource

(PSS)

reported third-quarter earnings of $1.11 a share, in line with the seven-analyst estimate and up from a year-ago 98 cents a share. Payless ShoeSource was gaining 1 1/8 to 43 1/8.

Pennzoil-Quaker State

(PZL)

reported third-quarter operating net of 7 cents a share, falling short of the five-analyst estimate of 15 cents a share, but up from a year-ago 6 cents a share. The company said it expects to achieve $105 million in cost savings by the end of next year. Pennzoil-Quaker shares were adding 1/16 to 12 5/16.

Sierra Health

(SEI)

reported third-quarter earnings of 33 cents a share, in line with the nine-analyst estimate but lower than a year-ago 46 cents a share. The company said it sees a fourth-quarter charge due to job cuts and unit sales. Sierra said recapitalization was not in its shareholders best interests and said it would proceed with a previously announced share buyback plan. Sierra Health shares were adding 11/16, or 11.3%, to 6 13/16.

Waste Management

(WMI)

reported third-quarter earnings of 44 cents a share, missing the 10-analyst estimate of 47 cents and down from the year-ago 49 cents. Last night,

TheStreet.com/nytimes.com

joint newsroom covered Waste Management's

third-quarter earnings report. Shares of Waste Management were losing 1 9/16, or 8.8%, to 16 3/16.

Offerings and stock actions

TheStreet.com

wrote about the United Parcel Service IPO in a story

last night.

Merrill Lynch

said

Centerprise Advisors

has decided to ax its IPO plans, citing unfavorable market conditions. Merrill was expected to price Centerprise Advisors' 10.5 million-share IPO on Wednesday in a price range of $11.50 to $13.50 a share.

Copper Mountain

(CMTN)

set a 2-for-1 stock split of its common shares. A stock dividend will be distributed on Dec. 9 to shareholders of record on Nov. 24. Shares of Copper Mountain were hopping 4 1/8, or 5.2%, to 83 1/2.

Dataram's

(DTM)

board approved a 3-for-2 stock split. Dataram shares were climbing 1 3/8, or 7.4%, to 19 7/8.

Analyst actions

Merrill cut its rating on

Allied Waste

(AW)

to near-term neutral from accumulate. Allied Waste shares were slipping 5/8, or 6.7%, to 8 5/8.

Credit Suisse First Boston

upped his rating on

American Home Products

(AHP)

to buy from hold. American Home Products was mounting 1 3/8 to 54 1/16.

Warburg Dillon Read

started

American Standard

(ASD)

at buy. American Standard was sliding 3/16 to 38 3/16.

Merrill upgraded

Bay View Capital

(BVC)

to intermediate-term accumulate from intermediate-term neutral and long-term buy from long-term accumulate. Bay View Capital was adding 11/16 to 14 3/4.

Merrill Lynch upped its price target on electronic manufacturing service stocks including

Celestica

(CLS) - Get Report

to 76 from 62,

Jabil Circuit

(JBL) - Get Report

to 77 from 62 and

Solectron

(SLR)

to 91 from 82. Shares of Celestica were rising 6 7/16, or 10.2%, to 69 1/8, while Jabil was hopping 2 9/16 to 65 3/16. Solectron shares were jumping 4 1/4, or 5%, to 86 5/8.

PaineWebber

raised its price target on

Electronic Data Systems

(EDS)

to 75 from 70 a share. The stock was up 5/8 to 64.

SG Cowen

upgraded

Inktomi

(INKT)

and set a price target of 150. Shares of Inktomi were mounting 6 5/8, or 5.7%, to 123.

Salomon Smith Barney

raised it price target on

Lehman Brothers

(LEH)

to 85 from 70. Lehman Brothers was climbing 2 1/8 to 73 15/16.

Merrill Lynch

upped its intermediate-term opinion on

Methode Electronics

(METHA)

to buy from accumulate. Methode shares were bouncing 2 3/4, or 13.5%, to 23 3/8.

Warburg upgraded

QLT PhotoTherapeutics

(QLTI)

to strong buy from buy. QLT said yesterday its losses widened in the third quarter because of higher marketing costs. QLT shares were adding 1 11/16 to 36 3/8.

Banc of America raised its ratings on

Seagate

(SEG)

and

Maxtor

(MXTR)

to buy from market performer. Shares of Seagate were mounting 1 7/8, or 5.4%, to 36 5/8, while Maxtor shares were rising 1 7/16, or 24.4%, to 7.

Credit Suisse First Boston upgraded

Stanley Works

(SWK) - Get Report

to buy from hold. Stanley Works shares hopped 1 1/4 to 30 11/16.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

raised its rating on

Staples

(SPLS)

to buy from market perform. Yesterday, shareholders approved a plan to create a separate tracking stock for

Staples.com

. Staples shares were gaining 2 9/16, or 14.7%, to 20.

Banc of America upped its price target on

Visual Networks

(VNWK)

to 125 from 60. Visual Networks was soaring 8 1/2, or 13.9%, to 69 1/2.

Miscellany

Avid Technology

(AVID) - Get Report

announced a restructuring plan under which it will cut 200 jobs. The plan, which includes new initiatives focused on the Internet and advanced work group solutions, is expected to produce annual cost savings of about $20 million. Avid will take a charge of between $9 million and $10 million in the fourth quarter related to the revamping. Avid Tech was edging up 9/16 to 12 1/16.

Compaq

(CPQ)

this morning unveiled a new corporate Internet-access PC priced at $499. Compaq expects the new machine, called the iPaq (sound familiar?), to account for at least 15% of the corporate computers it sells over the next year. The boxmaker's stock was up 1 3/8, or 6.6%, to 22 1/8.

An explosion at a

Tosco

(TOS)

refinery about 40 minutes from Los Angeles sparked a major fire late Tuesday, sending plumes of smoke billowing hundreds of feet and temporarily closing nearly schools and a freeway before it was contained. Shares of Tosco nevertheless were up 1 1/8 to 27 15/16.

Overshadowing the bad news for the refinery were upgrades this morning from

PaineWebber

on refiners

Valero Energy

(VLO) - Get Report

and

Tesoro Petroleum

(TSO)

.

No injuries were reported in Tuesday's fire, the second major fire at a Tosco refinery this year. Tosco was fined over $810,000 by the federal

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

in August following its investigation into alleged violations which led to the February fire that killed four. The cause of Tuesday's fire is under investigation.

--

Mavis Scanlon