Indices Mixed at Midday as Volume's a Real Turkey

Trading was light throughout the morning as the major indices wandered aimlessly up and down.
Publish date:

Stocks were fighting off inertia and trying to move higher on featherweight pre-turkey trading volume.

With the exception of the

Nasdaq Composite Index

, (what's new you ask?) already stuffed from a plump 37-point gain this morning, major proxies were narrowly mixed and bouncing near opening levels.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

was lately just lower, off 1.53 to 10,994.10 after a fitful up-and-down morning. The Dow wasn't feeling so thankful to


(IBM) - Get Report

today as news that its accounting methods have raised some eyebrows was putting pressure on the stock. Big Blue was feeling depressed, about 2.6%, to be precise.

"It's tough to really pick a direction today," said James Maguire, Jr. a

New York Stock Exchange

specialist at

Henderson Brothers

. Light trading, a little bit of profit taking, no heavy selling and continued strength in Internets summed up the session, said Maguire.

The recent tech-stock tear bears watching in the bigger picture to at least one strategist.

"I think the market is going to be very mixed in December. You've got a very overbought tech sector and a fairly oversold rest of the market," said Philip Roth, chief technical market analyst at

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

"Tech is going to have to get in gear with the rest of the market. In the early part of the new year, market strength is likely to be rotational."

The ravenous tech-sector was reaching for a third helping, with Internet Sector

rising 11.97 to 961.26.



was yelling loudest in the DOT, lately jumping 11 3/16, or 5.1%, to 232 5/16.

In the Nasdaq Comp,






were feeling saucy thanks to analyst upgrades. Vignette was up 7.6%, while Sycamore was rising 4.5%.

NorthEast Optic Network


popped 15 13/16, or 26.3%, to 76 after it announced major network transport and carrier services agreements.

The January crude-oil futures contract was up 47 cents to $26.91 a barrel, off an intraday high of $27.10. The contract was up in part on weekly data from the

American Petroleum Institute

, which reported a 2.1 million-barrel decline in crude stocks. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service

was climbing 2.3%.

Oil supply worries were seeping into the transportation sector, where airlines in particular were taking it on the chin. The

American Stock Exchange Airline Index

was falling 2%.

American Airlines




was down 2.8%, while

US Airways

(U) - Get Report

was down 3.5%.


Dow Jones Transportation Average

was sliding 2%.



caused a slowdown after

Banc of America Securities

lowered its rating to buy from strong buy. USFreightways was slipping 4.2%.

On the Big Board laggards were beating leaders 1,657 to 1,223, on 426 shares, while on the

Nasdaq Stock Market

advancers and decliners were neck-and-neck 1,806 to 1,894 on 731 million shares. New lows trounced new highs 184 to 27 on the NYSE, while new highs topped new lows on the Nasdaq 104 to 53.


S&P 500

was up 4.76 to 1409.40, while the

Russell 2000

was down 0.31 to 454.14.

The benchmark 30-year Treasury was down 6/32 to 98 28/32, its yield at 6.205.

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


(KO) - Get Report

was up 1.1% to 67 7/16 after it said that it will not adjust its offer to purchase



soda brand, after a French government decision to stop the acquisition. The French government threw out the offer due to concerns that Coke was creating a monopoly in the French soft drink market.

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report


Time Warner


said GE hasn't offered to sell


to Time Warner. The denials came after Rupert Murdoch said on the

Fox News Channel

that GE offered to sell NBC to Time Warner for $25 billion. Murdoch is chairman and CEO of

News Corp.

(NWS) - Get Report

, which owns

Fox News Channel

. Shares of GE were at 137 3/4, while Time Warner was adding 2 7/8 to 62 9/16.

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

is talking with some market players, including the

Chicago Stock Exchange

, about creating an electronic options exchange. Goldman shares were losing 11/16 to 77 1/16.



was down 1.8%, to 35 13/16 after it said it sold a 50% stake in


, which owns and operates a pulp mill in Prince George British Columbia, to


. The purchase price was $635 million, payable by cash of $480 million and the issuance to Mead subsidiary


, a total of $155 million of convertible subordinated debentures of Canfor.


(UN) - Get Report

is buying

Amora Maille

for about $744 million. Amora Maille is a French mustard maker. Unilever was gaining 1.3% to 57 9/16.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

ING Groep

(ING) - Get Report

was slipping 5/8 to 60 5/8 after it said its nine-month operational net profit soared 51% to 2.42 billion euros. The Dutch financial services group said it expects operational net profit for the entire year to increase by 40% to 45% compared to 1998.

Offerings and stock actions

Electronic Boutique


was sliding 1 5/16, or 6.1%, to 20 1/16 after it said it was offering 3.5 million common shares at 21 3/8.


(HRL) - Get Report

was tacking on 1 9/16 to 42 after it said its board approved a 2-for-1 stock split.

Insurance titan

Metropolitan Life

filed with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

to raise up to $6.5 billion in an IPO. MetLife said it plans to sell 225 million shares, or 31% of the company, and expects to price the shares between $14 to $24 a share.

CIBC World Markets

priced 3.75 million shares of



at $17 a share, the top of the expected range. Shares of PVN were edging up 7/16 to 17 3/8.

Analyst actions

J.P. Morgan started coverage of

Annuity & Life Re


with a buy rating and a price target of 34. Annuity & Life Re was edging up 13/16 to 27 1/8.

Credit Suisse First Boston

raised its rating on shares of


(ADSK) - Get Report

to buy from hold. Shares of Autodesk were jumping 3 7/8, or 16.1%, to 27 7/8.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

raised its rating on

Black & Decker

to strong buy from buy. Black & Decker was climbing 3% to 46.

First Boston started coverage of


(BSQR) - Get Report

with a buy rating. Bsquare was bouncing 1/4 to 47 7/16.

Robertson Stephens

initiated coverage of


(CELG) - Get Report

with a long-term attractive rating. Celgene was sliding 3 7/8, or 6.2%, to 58 11/16.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown said it rolled out coverage of

Digital Insight


with a buy rating. Shares of Digital Insight were falling 1 5/16 to 43 5/8.

Merrill Lynch

rolled out coverage on


(EPC) - Get Report

with a buy rating and a price target of 71. Epcos was jumping 3 9/16, or 6.2%, to 60 3/8.

Banc of America

raised its rating on


(INTC) - Get Report

to strong buy from buy. Intel shares were tacking on 2 1/4 to 81 1/4.

Robertson Stephens

reiterated a buy rating on


(INTU) - Get Report

. First Boston reiterated a strong buy rating and

Warburg Dillon Read

raised Intuit's price target to 70 from 37. Shares of Intuit were hopping 3 15/16, or 8.9%, to 47 7/8.

Merrill Lynch


Kent Electronics


to intermediate-term accumulate from neutral. Shares of Kent were tacking on 5/16 to 24 1/16.

Deutsche Banc raised its rating on

Martin Marietta Materials

(MLM) - Get Report

to strong buy from buy. Martin Marietta Materials was climbing 9/16 to 39 13/16.

Merrill Lynch reinstated coverage of


(MAS) - Get Report

with a buy rating and set a price target of 39. Shares of Masco was losing 5/8 to 26 1/16.

Merrill raised its price target on shares of

Methode Electronics


to the mid-40s from around 30. Shares of Methode popped 2 1/16, or 8%, to 27 3/4.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter cut its rating on



to neutral from outperform. Novell shares were skidding 1 1/8, or 5.1%, to 20 15/16.

First Boston started coverage of



with a buy rating. Shares of SDL was leaping 9 1/8, or 5.4%, to 176 5/8.

First Boston started coverage on

Sycamore Networks


with a buy rating. Shares of Sycamore were soaring 10 3/8 to 242 3/8.

Salomon Smith Barney

upped its rating on

Sovereign Bancorp


to buy from outperform. Sovereign Bancorp was adding 5/16 to 8.

SG Cowen

upgraded shares of



to strong buy with a 250 price target. Shares of Vignette were leaping 14, or 7.6%, to 197.

Deutsche Banc cut its rating on shares of

Vulcan Materials

(VMC) - Get Report

to buy from strong buy. Shares of Vulcan were slipping 1 to 39 1/2.


Nextel Communications


was advancing 3 7/8 to 101 9/16 after it said Dan Akerson would remain the company's chairman through 2000, a year longer than expected.

The "Heard on the Street" column in the




(IBM) - Get Report

is facing scrutiny for its use of an accounting method which raised operating income by lowering reported costs.

IBM reported a 53% rise in operating income to $8.9 billion, on a mere revenue jump of only $63.4 billion, or 12%, in the nine months ended Sept. 30. At issue is the manner in which IBM booked one-time gains of $4 billion from the sale of its Global Network business to


(T) - Get Report

in the second and third quarters. Shares of IBM were stumbling 2 to 103 1/8.

Value America


was skidding 9/16 to 14 after it said Glenda Dorchak has been named CEO, replacing Tom Morgan who's leaving for personal reasons.