Looks like Wall Street got the sweets out of its system yesterday, because today's session ended on a sour note.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average reached into its goodie bag today, but came up empty-handed. At last look, the blue-chip measure was off its lows but still closed in the red. The

Nasdaq Composite Index, which burst 178.2 points after several sessions of losses yesterday, also fell off its sugar-high today.

Topping the late afternoon headlines was communications company

WorldCom

(WCOM)

. Earlier today, it warned about a revenue shortfall for the fourth quarter and announced plans to spin off its consumer business, MCI.

TheStreet.com

wrote a separate story about the

WorldCom woes earlier today.

Investors hung WorldCom's stock out to dry and the stock ended down 20.3%. Fellow communications companies dropped in sympathy with WorldCom.

British Telecom

(BTY)

decreased 3.8%;

Vodafone

(VOD) - Get Report

dropped 5.1%;

SBC Communications

(SBC)

lowered 2.8%. Additionally,

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

, which announced a restructuring plan just last week, slid 5.9%.

A research report from

Goldman Sachs

took a bite out of brokerage stocks this afternoon. Earlier today, Goldman reduced fourth-quarter earnings forecasts by about 9% for

Lehman Brothers

(LEH)

,

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

(MWD)

and

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

. The investment firm cited softness in the IPO market and private equity businesses.

Salomon Smith Barney

, for its part, got in on the action with its own set of downgrades on the brokerage industry. Solly lowered its fourth-quarter earnings estimates for Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley.

Lehman ended off 5.6%, Morgan Stanley was off 1.6%, and Merrill slipped 1.9%.

In the technology arena, specialty chipmaker

Altera

(ALTR) - Get Report

announced that revenue growth would be at the lower end of a forecasted 12% to 15% range, triggering the Wall Street community to hack their recommendations on its stock.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

cut the chipmaker to outperform from strong buy and lowered its price target to $65 from $92.50.

W.R. Hambrecht

downgraded Altera to neutral from strong buy.

Merrill Lynch

cut its 2000 EPS estimate to $1.02 from $1.03 and 2001 EPS estimate to $1.50 from $1.53.

Bear Stearns

, however, reiterated its buy rating and $100 target, while

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

maintained its strong buy rating.

The semi stock ended down 20.5%. Meantime, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

, which tracks the performance of chip companies, was off 3.8%.

Dow pillars of strength this afternoon were

ExxonMobil

(XOM) - Get Report

, up 3.2% and

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

, higher by 2.9%. Weaker outposts included

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

, down 3.4%;

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

, sinking 4.4%; and

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

, off 2.7%.

Sector Watch

Oil stocks, which have seen it prices gush in recent days, were up this afternoon. With oil trading at $33.20 a barrel, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

popped 5.9%.

Internet stocks were flying today.

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

was up 2.1% after it reiterated confidence in its business strategy this morning.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

soared 9.8%,

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

rose 4.9% and

CMGI

(CMGI)

was up 22.6%.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 3.9%.

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Bonds/Economy

Bonds were little changed, with traders continuing to expect that this week's economic data will show further signs of a slowing economy and underpin the bond market's strong performance. A weak opening on the stock market also helped bonds.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note was unchanged at 100 1/32, yielding 5.744%.

The 30-year

Treasury bond was at 106 19/32, yielding 5.783%.

The October

Purchasing Managers' Index

(

definition |

chart |

source

) fell to 48.3 from 49.9 in September.

The

Mortgage Applications Survey

(

definition |

chart |

source

) for the latest week rose to 654.6 from 587.2 in the prior period.

Construction spending

(

definition |

chart |

source

) for September rose 2.4%, after a 1.8% gain in August.

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