On the 20th anniversary of one of

rock music's saddest days, the stock market

imagined an end to the

mind games recently played by the presidential election. It was a pretty positive

day in the life of the

Dow and the

Nasdaq had

nothing to hide (except for me and my monkey).

Indeed, most stocks needed no

help today.

The

Nasdaq finished up a volatile week of big jumps and drops by racking up triple-digit gains. The

Dow, which hasn't missed out on the tumult, had a solid finish as well.

About an hour and a half before the closing bell, judges from two Florida counties ruled against throwing out thousands of absentee ballots despite irregularities. That sign of resolution sent the stocks soaring to their highs of the day. Still, Wall Street had to wait until after the closing bell for a statement from the state's highest court.

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And when

the Court did speak, it issued a surprising decision that keeps Al Gore in this race and will likely shake the market when the opening bell strikes on Monday morning.

But for today, the ruling didn't matter. The market got off to a rolling start this morning on word of a relatively friendly

jobs report. The jobs report showed that nonfarm payrolls -- a measure of net new jobs created -- slowed significantly in November, hitting a 94,000 rise vs. the forecast 140,000.

While the other components of

the report were mixed, that payrolls number was giving further credence to the idea that the economy is slowing enough to spur a

Fed

interest-rate cut in the near future. Recent economic data and earnings warnings had started rumblings of the Fed changing its stance, but the rumblings turned into a roar on Tuesday when

Big Al acknowledged the economy had responded to rate hikes and had slowed.

The major indices responded with a big run up that day, but toppled into the red on Wednesday following a warning by

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

and the market kept on the downward trend yesterday.

So, last night's post-close

warning by chipmaking giant

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

-- something that would typically be terrible news -- should have sent the stocks right back down, right? It didn't.

Intel came out last night saying it would miss fourth-quarter estimates because of slowing PC sales. Analysts lined up to dole out negative notes, but they couldn't hurt the stock. In fact, Intel was one of the most actively traded stocks on the Nasdaq.

Dan Ament, associate vice president and investment executive at

Dain Rauscher

, said the stock didn't fall or send the market down because in the past month stocks, including Intel, have been oversold due to investor concern. Ament said Intel couldn't really fall lower. At the beginning of November, Intel was at about $46.75. Today, the stock closed up 5.2% to $34.

Investors were

prepared for the warning, since "slowing PC demand" has prompted warnings from

Gateway

(GTW)

,

Motorola

(MOT)

and

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

recently.

The Comp received some major lift from fiber-optics company

JDS Uniphase

(JDSU)

, computer networking company

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

and telecommunications equipment maker

Ciena

(CIEN) - Get Report

.

Also on the Comp, weak Internet ad sales hit search engine

Ask Jeeves

(ASKJ)

, which got the stuffing kicked out of it after last night's announcement that its CEO resigned. It also revised downward its revenue and loss expectations for the fourth quarter.

Over on the Dow, tech stocks Intel,

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

,

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

were all up. Financials

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

and

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

weren't slacking either.

Before the 4 p.m. statement from the Florida Supreme Court, Ament said about the rally "the issue of sustainability is becoming reality now." He said everything was in the market's favor, with the jobs data coming in favorably, Greenspan's acknowledgement of a slowing environment and tremendous cash balances on the sideline, waiting for a catalyst to come back in.

The negatives he said were continued earnings warnings and political uncertainty. With the court's ruling, uncertainty has come storming back.

Next week ought to be a load of laughs.

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Market Internals

Breadth was positive on heavy volume.

New York Stock Exchange: 2,079 advancers, 816 decliners, 1.347 billion shares. 218 new 52-week highs, 55 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market: 2,817 advancers, 1,144 decliners, 2.147 billion shares. 84 new highs, 180 new lows.

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Most Active Stocks

NYSE Most Actives

Nasdaq Most Actives

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Sector Watch

When the market does well, so do brokers and dealers. The

American Stock Exchange Securities Broker/Dealer Index

jumped 8%.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

(MWD)

got a boost today after

Merrill Lynch

upgraded the stock to accumulate from neutral. The note said the stock was upgraded because of its unusually attractive valuation. It was up 9.3% to $74.19.

Sliding oil prices have put transports back in the green. The

American Stock Exchange Airline Index

was 5.2% higher, while the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

hopped 3%.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index hasn't really been embraced in recent weeks, but today the sector, which is also call the DOT, was bouncing 9.2%.

Check Point Software Technologies

(CHKP) - Get Report

got the blue ribbon. Yesterday, the Israeli company received

Network Computing

magazine's Editor's Choice Award for the "integration, interoperability and breadth of security solutions, applications and hardware platforms it provides" through one of its platforms. It moved up 15.2%.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasury note and bond prices fell after the November

employment report

(

definition |

chart |

source

) showed that wages and salaries rose at the fastest pace in nearly two years last month. That throws cold water on expectations for a near-term interest-rate cut by the Fed to stimulate economic growth, which has been slowing.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note was unchanged at 103 12/32, lifting its yield to 5.299%.

The economy added fewer jobs than economists expected in November, a sign that growth continues to slow. Nonfarm payrolls grew by 94,000, compared to an average forecast among economists polled by

Reuters

for a gain of 137,000.

The unemployment rate rose to 4% from 3.9%, further confirming that demand for workers is ebbing.

But the average hourly wage rose 0.4% to $13.94 from $13.88, lifting the earnings growth rate to 4%, the fastest since January 1999. A fast rate of earnings growth has the potential to cause inflation to rise by creating more demand for goods and services than the economy can produce. As long as the Fed sees the risk of rising inflation, it will hesitate to lower interest rates, even though growth is slowing.

At the

Chicago Board of Trade

, traders of

fed funds futures contracts downgraded the odds of a near-term interest rate cut by selling the contracts. The odds that the Fed will lower the

fed funds rate to 6.25% from 6.5% this month, indicated by the price of the December fed funds futures contract, fell to about 30% from 41%. The odds of a 25-

basis-point rate cut by the end of January slipped to about 95% from 102%.

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International

Yer bloody right!

London's stock market made some serious headway as telecommunications stocks pushed higher as the American market rallied. The

FTSE

gained 57 to 6288.

British Telecom

(BTY)

was one of the best, along with

Cable & Wireless

(CWP)

.

In both Paris and Frankfurt, markets were mixed. France's

CAC

dipped 45 to 5939, while the German

Xetra Dax

rose 125 to 6691.

The euro was much higher than it has been in recent months and recently traded at $0.8886. This is about where the euro has been for much of the week, unable to break past 90 cents. The yen was also relatively unchanged, with the greenback getting 110.99.

Asian markets usually track the performance of the Nasdaq since they've got a sizable chunk of technology names, just like the Comp. And after yesterday's slight drop, instead of rallying, the markets were only tentatively higher -- mindful of last night's warning from

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

. Japan's

Nikkei 225

rose 36 to 14,756, while the Hong Kong

Hang Seng

rose 178 to 15,189.

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