GE Powers Dow, Usual Suspects Power Nasdaq as Rally Continues

The Dow is challenging its August record high, while the Nasdaq is on pace to set yet another record of its own.
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After leaping at the open, sell orders quickly rushed the technology sector and helped knock the

Nasdaq Composite Index

off the breathtaking perch from which it surveyed the rest of the market early on.

But as trading entered the early afternoon, the Comp was still solidly higher and leading the rest of the market's major gauges on the upside.

The Nasdaq Comp was up 46, or 1.2%, to 3762. Semiconductor and telecommunications names, along with gains in index heavyweights, were helping push the index higher.

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The momentum that has driven technology stocks since mid-October kicked in right away this morning, and the Comp soared to an all-time intraday high of 3796.80 out of the gate. But it couldn't hold onto those gains and immediately came off its peak.

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

lately was up 1.7%, while the

Nasdaq Telecommunications Index

was up 1.5%.

The tech sector was also heartened by better-than-expected earnings out of

Adobe

(ADBE) - Get Report

, which released its quarterly results

yesterday. Adobe was up 5 1/8, or 7.9%, to 69.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 77, or 0.7%, to 11,322, powered the most by gains in

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

. Juicing up GE's stock was news that the company's board approved a 3-for-1 stock split, a 17% bump in its quarterly dividend and a hike of its share repurchase program to $22 billion from $17 billion. GE's stock hit an all-time intraday high when it peaked at 154 3/4. Also lending a hand to the Dow was

Alcoa

(AA) - Get Report

, which was sporting a solid gain.

The Dow was on pace to challenge its

Aug. 25 record high of 11,326.04.

The downside leader among the blue-chip average's components was

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

, which was off 5 to 123 7/8.

Elsewhere, the

S&P 500

was up 8, or 0.6%, to 1427. The small-cap

Russell 2000

was up 3, or 0.7%, to 468.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

was up 5, or 0.4%, to 1129. The DOT had soared as high as 1163.77 intraday.

Breadth was positive on both the Big Board and the

Nasdaq Stock Market

and volume was heavy on both exchanges. (see below)

Meanwhile, another factor playing into today's action is the fact that the S&P 500 and

Nasdaq 100 will be rebalanced after the close. Also playing into the market's movements is the fact that today is a triple-witching Friday, the quarterly expiration of index futures, index future options and certain stock options.

Philip Roth, chief technical analyst at

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

, said it's "stupid" to try to make any judgments about long-lasting trends amid the cross-currents of this time of year. The technician noted that December is fraught with factors such as window-dressing and tax-loss selling.

Roth said he wouldn't chase the strong stocks right here. He said some poor-performing, oversold sectors -- among them electric utilities, REITs, auto equipment, aerospace, food chain, apparel and home building -- are bounce candidates in the new year.

Roth said the "mania for technology" is the market's striking feature right now -- and he pointed out that manias lead to corrections.

Another market watcher also sees some pullback in tech coming on the horizon.

Bruce Bittles, market strategist at

J.C. Bradford

in Nashville, Tenn., said the rally since mid-October, which has "only included" technology stocks, "is troublesome." Going forward, Bittles said he thinks that the key longer-term is how the market performs early next year. Bittles thinks tech stocks will come down in January and the rest of the market will rise.

"I think that would be the healthiest pattern long-term," Bittles said.

Bittles said that if the broad market comes on like he expects it to in January, "all systems are go at that point." But if it doesn't, look out.

Sector-wise on the downside, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

was off 2.6%, while

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

was down 1.6%.

As for the Treasury market, after rising earlier in the session, the 30-year Treasury bond was back underwater. The long bond was lately down 1/32 to 96 14/32, yielding 6.39%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's early

Bond Focus.)

Among other indices, the

Dow Jones Utility Average

was up 1.2%, the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

was up 0.4% and the

American Stock Exchange Composite Index

was down 0.7%.

Market Internals

Both major exchanges were on pace for near-record volume, with breadth modestly positive.

New York Stock Exchange:

1,594 advancers, 1,363 decliners, 870 million shares. 56 new 52-week highs, 214 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market:

2,002 advancers, 1,873 decliners, 910 million shares. 156 new highs, 76 new lows.

Friday's Midday Watchlist

By Eileen Kinsella
Staff Reporter

Investors pulled the plug on

Tandy

(TAN) - Get Report

, operator of electronics retailer

Radio Shack

, after it said same-store sales are currently 8% to 10% below its goal this month. The company did say it sees double-digit sales gains for the fourth quarter and the year, and added it's comfortable with the current 17-analyst fourth-quarter earnings estimate of 62 cents a share. Investors, who were too busy stuffing coal in its stock(ing) to hear the latter news, sent shares down, 16, or 24.4%, to 49 13/16.

Progress Software

(PRGS) - Get Report

gained 6 5/8, or 14.6%, to 51 7/8 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 60 cents a share, beating the three-analyst estimate of 55 cents and the year-ago 43 cents. The company also set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Abbott Laboratories

(ABT) - Get Report

lost 1 3/4 to 37 3/4 and

Alza

(AZA)

fell 1 7/8, or 5.8%, to 31 5/8 after the companies said they called off their $7.3 billion merger because they were unable to resolve

Federal Trade Commission

concerns. Alza said it will take a fourth-quarter cancellation charge of $10 million to $15 million and now expects to report earnings in the range of 26 cents to 29 cents a share, well below the current seven-analyst estimate of 45 cents.

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom covered the prewedding divorce in a

story yesterday.

Daleen Technologies

(DALN)

gained 2 1/16, or 7.6%, to 29 1/4 after it agreed to buy

Inlogic Software

in a stock deal valued at $64.8 million.

Duke Energy

(DUK) - Get Report

climbed 1 3/4 to 49 3/4 and

Phillips Petroleum

(P)

slipped 7/16 after the companies said they formed a gas-gathering, marketing venture. Duke said the new company would offer about 20% of its stock in an IPO in the first half of 2000.

Headhunter

(HHNT)

gained 1 9/16, or 11.8%, to 14 13/16 after saying it entered a distribution pact with

NBC Internet

(NBCI)

Shares of NBCI inched up 1/4 to 71..

Pharmacia & Upjohn

(PNU)

lost 1 5/16 to 51 15/16 after

The Wall Street Journal

reported it is in merger talks with

Monsanto

(MTC) - Get Report

. Pharmacia and Monsanto, which was lately rising 1 5/8 to 42, are having serious talks about a merger of equals, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Telewest Communications

(TWSTY)

slipped 1/4 to 53 after it and

Flextech

said their proposed merger would dilute earnings in the first two years. Charles Burdick, who would serve as the finance director for the merged group, said during a conference call that EBITDA would be diluted by roughly 12% in the first year before the merger becomes accretive in the third.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(

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

)

Adobe rose 5 1/8, or 7.9%, to 69 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings of 76 cents a share, crushing the 12-analyst estimate by 34 cents.

Banc of America Securities

upped Adobe's price target to 90.For more on Adobe's earnings,

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom has the complete

story.

Circuit City

(CC) - Get Report

slipped 11/16 to 41 7/8 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 26 cents a share, in line with the 17-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 8 cents. Circuit City also said it tapped its president and COO, W. Alan McCollough, as its CEO.

Nike

(NKE) - Get Report

trotted up 5 3/4, or 12.5%, to 51 3/8 after it posted second-quarter earnings of 38 cents a share, beating the 17-analyst estimate of 34 cents and the year-ago 28 cents, which excludes a restructuring charge. Nike said earnings rose more than 50% and that it achieved quarterly revenue growth for the first time in two years. The company said it saw revenue grow in every region, but that its sales increase was largely fueled by growth outside the U.S.

Merrill Lynch

raised its medium-term rating on Nike to buy from accumulate,

Lehman Brothers

rated the stock a buy and set a 12-month price target of 66, and J.P. Morgan upped the stock to a buy from long-term buy and set a price target of 60.For more on the sneaker behemoth's earnings, check out

additional coverage from

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom.

Potlatch

(PCH) - Get Report

was unchanged at 42 1/2 after it warned it expects fourth-quarter earnings will fall "significantly below" the consensus estimate. The three-analyst estimate calls for the diversified forest-products company to earn 48 cents a share in the fourth quarter and $1.77 in fiscal 1999.

Sinclair Broadcast Group

(SBGI) - Get Report

lost 1 1/4, or 10.4%, to 10 13/16 after it revised its outlook for its fourth quarter based on reports of its advertising sales for the quarter to date. The company said it expects fourth-quarter cash flow of $91 million, or 38 cents a share.

Offerings and stock actions

AVT

(AVTC)

fell 1/2 to 41 after it set a 2-for-1 stock split and said it tapped Richard Laporte as its next CEO.

CMGI

(CMGI)

lost 2 1/8 to 219 7/16 after it said its CEO is considering the possibility of an IPO for its Atventures, venture arm.

Copart

(CPRT) - Get Report

said it set a spinoff of its Internet divisions. The company is seeking the

Internal Revenue Service's

approval to distribute the unit's shares as a dividend.

General Electric popped 6 1/8 to 153 11/16 after it set a 3-for-1 stock split, and increased its share buyback program by $5 billion to $22 billion.

Analyst actions

J.P. Morgan started coverage of

Agilent

(A) - Get Report

as a buy and set a price target of 60. Shares fell 15/16 to 46 5/16 despite the news.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

upped its rating on

Ariba

(ARBA)

to strong buy from buy. Shares soared 15 3/4, or 6.6%, to 253 3/8.

Credit Suisse First Boston

analyst David Nelson upgraded

General Mills

(GIS) - Get Report

to buy from hold. General Mills gained 1 7/16 to 34 3/16.

CSFB upped its fiscal 2000 estimates on

Jabil Circuit

(JBL) - Get Report

to $1.60 a share from $1.55 a share. Jabil lost 1 5/16 to 70 3/16 despite the news.

Miscellany

America Online

(AOL)

inched up 3/8 to 86 9/16 after it said membership of its AOL service has surpassed 20 million.

Bell Atlantic

(BEL)

gained 3/8 to 64 11/16, after the

Journal

reported its plan to offer long-distance service in New York state could be awarded

Federal Communications Commission

approval as soon as next week, making it the first Baby Bell to enter the long-distance market.

Gilatech

(GLIA)

gained 3 5/16, or 21.6%, to 18 5/8 after it said the

Food and Drug Administration

has ended its restrictions on its European-made

Adcon-L

product line. The company said that shipments would begin again in the first quarter of 2000.

Modis Professional Services

(MPS)

slipped 1/4 to 12 13/16 after saying its board gave the company the go-ahead to create two publicly traded companies: information technology and professional services. The board also authorized management to continue to look at strategic alternatives, including an IPO, for the company's e-business unit, which is included in the information technology division.

Raytheon

(RTN.A)

inched up 1/16 to 25 1/16 after it said it was awarded a $1.3 billion U.K. defense contract for a radar system.

This week's Inside Wall Street column in

Business Week

, penned as usual by Gene Marcial, offers up a positive piece on

Silverleaf Resorts

(SVR)

. The column cites money manager Geoffrey Nixon of

MCM Associates

, which holds a 6% stake in Silverleaf. Nixon says the stock is worth 27 based on 15 times estimated earnings per share of $1.80 a share in 2000. Silverleaf was unchanged at 6 1/2.

The column also offers up positive pieces on

EarthWeb

(EWBX)

and

GlobalNet Financial.com

(GLBN)

. EarthWeb climbed 3 3/4, or 10.3%, to 40, while GlobalNet rose 1/2 to 30 1/8.

As originally published, this story contained an error. Please see

Corrections and Clarifications.