The long and winding week ended with a rare exacta, as stocks finished with both a bang and a whimper. Led by drug makers and tech stocks, major proxies rose across the board today but volume was predictably muted ahead of the much-anticipated, long-awaited, whatta-you-mean-you-don't-have-plans-yet? holiday weekend.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
rose 92.81, or 0.9%, to 10,559.74 while the
grew 20.43, or 1.6%, to 1301.84. The
Nasdaq Composite Index
climbed 51.37, or 2.1%, to 2470.52 and
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index rose 21.26, or 3.8%, to 580.64. The "Why'd he call me shorty? Because you're small, small, s-m-all"
gained 5.76, or 1.3%, to 438.68.
Still, the Dow industrials fell 269.54 or 2.5% for the week; the S&P 500 slid 28.51, or 2.1%; the Nasdaq Comp shed 50.73 or 2%; the Russell 2000 dipped 10.44, or 2.3%; and TheStreet.com Internet index lost 42.74, or 6.9%.
New York Stock Exchange
trading, 657.8 million shares were traded -- the lowest level since Feb. 16 -- while advancers led declining stocks 1,944 to 980. In
Nasdaq Stock Market
activity, 685.1 million shares were exchanged -- the lightest day since Dec. 24 -- while gainers led 2,327 to 1,536. New 52-week highs led new lows 25 to 20 in Big Board activity and by 59 to 37 in over-the-counter trading.
Acknowleging the expected slowdown, market players said the upturn was predicated on the bond market's solid pre-holiday-shortened session.
"Everything pretty much shut down after 11" a.m. EDT, said one New York-based trader, who requested anonymity. "Everything is interest-rate-sensitive. The key thing is the bonds caught some support. If they tanked today we would have had some trouble."
The price of the 30-year Treasury bond rose 6/32 to 91 25/32, its yield dipping to 5.84%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's late
Chicago Purchasing Managers Index
for April "gave the bond market its steadiness," the trader said, noting bonds did close off intraday highs. "People flattened out positions going into next week. We've got a bunch of stuff -- construction spending,
and consumer spending. Why take the risk?"
However, yesterday's rumors about a preemptive tightening by the
was unfounded and probably emerged from "somebody with a big short position" in bonds, he said. The Fed has "a bias toward raising rates, but I don't think the market warrants them raising rates. The market has backed up by itself. Why do they need to raise rates?"
Moreover, the trader remains impressed at equities' ability to largely withstand the recent unrest in bonds.
"The market is bulletproof. There's still value out there," he said. "Maybe money is flushing from one industry to another but there's still a lot on the sidelines. I don't see the market backing up more than 500 to 1000 points. Big deal. Things trade where they trade for a reason the majority of the time."
The upturn encompassed most major industry groups, with paper companies and gold mining stocks the notable exceptions. Among gainers, growth stocks outpaced value as expressed by the
S&P Barra Growth Index
, up 1.9% vs. the
S&P Barra Value Index
, higher by 1.3%.
Within the growth sector, drug makers and tech stocks -- particularly Net names -- were the standouts.
Johnson & Johnson
was among the Dow's biggest positive influences, while
helped give the S&P a boost. The
American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index
were the best performers among traditional tech bellwethers, sending the
up 2%. With a $600 million investment, Mister Softee also helped
Among Net bellwethers,
was the best performer while new and infantile Net names enjoyed big gains.
(AUDC:Nasdaq) climbed 22% on its first day of trading and
jumped 29.5% on its third. Additionally,
soared 42.3% on 3.1 million shares, its highest volume since coming public May 5.
Financials also gave blue-chip averages a boost.
were among the Dow's best; the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index
rose 2.4% while the
American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index
On the downside,
was the biggest drag on the Dow while the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Forest & Paper Products Index
shed 1.6%. Elsewhere, the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold & Silver Index
was among notable individual losers, falling 16% on reports the
opposes the company's planned merger with
. Litton, however, climbed 3.9%.
Among other indices, the
Dow Jones Transportation Average
rose 36.93, or 1.1%, to 3415.70; the
Dow Jones Utility Average
rose 3.42, or 1.1%, to 329.20; and the
American Stock Exchange Composite Index
added 4.35, or 0.6%, to 778.74.
For the week, the Dow transports dropped 135.56, or 3.8%; the Dow utilities gained 4.05, or 1.2%; and the Amex Composite shed 16.63, or 2.1%.
For the (not so) merry month of May, the Dow industrials lost 229.30, or 2.1%; the S&P 500 shed 27.40, or 2.1%; the Nasdaq Comp fell 72.52, or 2.9%; the Russell 2000 added 2.11, or 0.5%; the DOT dumped 75.62, or 11.5%; the Dow transports tumbled 231.59, or 6.3%; the Dow utilities added 17.65, or 5.7%; and the Amex Comp rose 1.77, or 0.2%.
Elsewhere in North American equities today, the
Toronto Stock Exchange 300
rose 74.90, or 1.1%, to 6802.70 and the
Mexican Stock Exchange IPC Index
fell 75.28, or 1.4%, to 5423.57. For the week, the TSE 300 fell 163.27, or 2.3% and the IPC slid 215.93, or 3.8%. For the month, the TSE surrendered 212, or 3%, and the IPC gained 9.12, or 0.2%.
'Did We Say We Weren't Buying SkyTel? Our Mistake'
After the close,
announced plans to acquire paging company
in a $1.3 billion stock deal. Not so surprising, given the extant rumors about a possible link-up between the two Jackson, Miss., telecom players.
But pretty darn surprising given what happened Tuesday, when the Web site
reported that MCI WorldCom had registered the Internet domain name "skytelworldcom.com" May 22. Seemed like rather compelling evidence of a pending tie-up, but MCI WorldCom said the registration was "not an indication of any official company intention" and was done by an employee acting on his own initiative.
Given the way things turned out, there are a few possible scenarios here:
MCI WorldCom was telling the truth, but after seeing the way "skytelworldcom.com" looked, it decided to do a couple of days of due diligence and buy SkyTel.
The employee acting on his own initiative was MCI WorldCom Chairman Bernie Ebbers.
MCI WorldCom was ... let's say, shading the truth.
We'll let you know which of those turns out to be the right answer. As for the stocks, MCI WorldCom today closed up 1 3/8 at 86 3/8 but reportedly dipped 1 1/8 to 85 1/4 in after-hours trading on the news. SkyTel rose up 1 to 20 5/16 in the regular session before being halted upon the announcement of the deal. Trading was resumed around 5:20 p.m. EDT although -- as of this writing -- no first sale had been reported in what must be a very quiet after-hours session. Calls to
John J. Edwards III
Friday's Company Report
Earnings estimates from First Call; new highs and lows on a closing basis unless otherwise specified. Earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified.
spun off its remaining 80.1% stake in
Delphi Automotive Systems
today. GM added 1/2 to 69, off an earlier high of 72 3/16; Delphi lost 7/8 to 19 5/8.
Newport News Shipbuilding tanked 5 1/4, or 16%, to 27 1/2 after
The New York Times
is recommending against Litton Industries' planned takeover of the company. Litton tacked on 2 7/16 to 65 3/16. The newspaper said the government is rejecting the unfriendly takeover on the grounds it would cause too much concentration in the military shipbuilding business.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
flew 5 1/16, or 20.9%, to 29 5/16 after last night
amended their previously announced merger. First Union said it would issue a number of its shares at $31 each in exchange for each share of Everen. In March, First Union said it would give 0.56 of a share for each Everen share. The merger price remains $1.1 billion. First Union added 9/16 to 46 3/16.
Nextel Communications climbed 2 1/4, or 6.5%, to 36 7/8 after saying it received a previously announced $600 million investment from Microsoft. Nextel said Microsoft received about 16.67 million shares of its stock at the agreed price of $36 a share. Microsoft, which picked up 2 3/8 to 80 11/16, now has a 4.25% stake in Nextel on a fully diluted basis.
expanded 1 1/4, or 9.3%, to 14 3/4 after
of France made a bid for the company. Elf Aquitaine closed flat at 71.
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
closed flat at 12 7/8 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 19 cents a share, 1 cent above the five-analyst view but below the year-ago 34 cents.
jumped 3 5/16, or 7.5%, to 47 5/16 after last night recording fourth-quarter earnings of 83 cents a share, a penny above the 24-analyst estimate and above the year-ago 75 cents. Today,
upped its price target for the stock to 50 from 45 a share.
CIBC World Markets
lifted the stock to strong buy from hold.
vaulted 7, or 10.9%, to 71 after last night reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 41 cents a share, matching the 39-analyst estimate and moving ahead of the year-ago 38 cents. Today, Prudential lifted the stock to strong buy from hold and lifted its price target to 80 from 68. CIBC World Markets pushed up the stock to buy from hold.
perked up 1 1/4 to 36 7/8 after last night saying its same-store sales for May rose 6%.
Offerings and stock actions
AudioCodes swelled 3 1/16, or 21.9%, to 17 1/16 after its 3.5 million-share IPO priced at $14 a share. The company is an Israel-based provider of Internet protocol and voice-over packet technologies
Meanwhile StarMedia grew 13 3/8, or 29.5%, to 58 7/8 and
grew 5, or 13.2%, to 43 in their respective third days of trading.
sliced off 3, or 12.6%, to 20 15/16 after
lowered it to buy from strong buy. Late yesterday, the company agreed to buy privately held
and said it would take a $2.8 million charge in the second-quarter.
Bank of America
rose 2 3/16 to 64 11/16 after
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
upgraded it to outperform from neutral.
flourished 3 1/2, or 11.9%, to 33 1/16 after
raised its price target for the British computer games company to 28 pounds.
expanded 4, or 10.4%, to 42 5/8 after Morgan Stanley Dean Witter increased it to outperform from neutral.
tacked on 3/16 to 67 15/16 after
initiated coverage with a near-term neutral and a long-term buy.
surged 2 1/2, or 10.1%, to 27 1/2 after Prudential lifted it to strong buy from accumulate and upped its price target to 40 from 30 a share.
hopped up 2 7/16, or 5.1%, to 50 1/16 after
BT Alex. Brown
upgraded it to buy from market perform and raised its 12-month price target for the stock by 7 to 63 a share.
declined 7/16 to 20 1/16 after Goldman Sachs downgraded it to market perform from outperform.
tumbled 2 3/8, or 48.7%, to 2 9/16 after saying it stopped Phase II/III trials of lisofylline after an independent safety panel recommended the trials be halted. Lisofylline is used to treat acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
fell 1 3/16 to 67 5/8 after
The Wall Street Journal
said retail surveys show the company is losing U.S. market share to rival
Fuji Photo Film
. Fuji clicked up 7/8 to 36. Kodak said the surveys focused on the short-term and were based on "a partial view of the market."
gave up 1 7/16 to 130 1/8 while
American Home Products
picked up 1/8 to 57 5/8 after the
Food and Drug Administration
for the treatment of moderately to severely-active polyarticular-course juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Immunex and AHP's
market Enbrel in North America.
Specialty software company
rallied 5/8, or 6.6%, to 10 1/8 after a bullish mention in
Inside Wall Street column, penned this week by Gary Weiss. Pat Farley, who follows software companies at
Kopp Investment Advisors
, told the magazine he believes the company is ripe for acquisition.
advanced 2 9/16, or 5.8%, to 47 on last night's news it will replace
in the S&P 500 after the closing bell June 4.
is acquiring Bankers Trust.
Sylvan Learning Systems
rose 1 5/8, or 6.3%, to 27 1/4 on news it will take PaineWebber's place in the
S&P MidCap 400