The major stock market averages have rebounded sharply off their lows for the day. For a time in the afternoon, they were even driving higher, thanks to bargain hunting investors. After taking the
Nasdaq Composite Index down this morning to 2199, its lowest level since Dec. 1998, traders successfully steered it slightly higher. But the wobbly rally had lately come unglued again, and the Nasdaq was back under the flatline, though not by much.
Dow Jones Industrial Average began meandering above break-even at about 1 p.m. but flip-flopped several times before its latest return into the red. Its move off session lows has been bolstered by strength in technology stocks, but its brief rally was even more tenuous than that of the Nasdaq. Breadth on both indices was still negative in late-day action, as corporate profit warnings and concerns about the economy continued to derail investor optimism.
Today's oversold condition on the Nasdaq came courtesy of
, which beat first-quarter earnings estimates last night but offered an unhopeful sales forecast for the rest of the year. In recent trading, the data storage equipment manufacturer was down 4.1% to $42.63.
Yesterday evening, Brocade warned that revenue growth in the second quarter would be "very modest," perhaps flat, and lowered its earnings target for 2001 by 2 cents per share to 60 cents per share. This morning
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
lowered its rating on the company to "outperform" from "strong buy."
To add to the bad news, data storage competitor
chimed in this morning, saying that uncertain economic conditions would slow the company's growth in 2001. In recent action, EMC -- the most actively traded stock on the
New York Stock Exchange
-- was off 6.5% to $40.14.
Despite being wide open to the flood of sellers this afternoon, the rest of the data storage sector was holding up pretty well in late-day trading. Shares of
, which tumbled in last night's after-hours session, were up 9.3% to $33.88 and 6.6% to $43.25, respectively.
was lately up 0.8% to $31, after being hammered earlier this week on news that the semiconductor manufacturer would implement cost-cutting measures to save money over the next year. Shares of
climbed 4.1% to $45, while
advanced 2.9% to $26.63. The
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
was up 2.4%.
Large-cap technology stocks, which have been pressured all week long, were mostly trading higher in recent action, though some stocks had lately turned down.
rose 5.7% to $26.63.
, which was pounded yesterday after
cautioned about the company's inventory pile-up, was lately rallying 9.6% to $21.44. The company holds its midquarter conference call with analysts after the closing bell today.
, which was down yesterday after
raised concerns about enterprise software manufacturers, was lately the strongest component on the blue-chip index, rising 2.6% to $110.25.
Other Dow stocks riding today's bounce include:
, up 2.7% to $61.81,
, higher 2.1% to $40.50, and
, ahead 3.6% to $43.50.
Blue-chip issues weighing down the index were consumer staple stocks. Among them,
Johnson & Johnson
, off 1.3% to $95.70,
, lower 5.0% to $52.15, and
Procter & Gamble
, behind 2.6% to $74.79.
As the stock market began its broad-based ascent in afternoon trading, several groups have risen along with it.
Here's the roundup: The
American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index
gained 0.5%, the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index
added 1.6%, the
American Stock Exchange Networking Index
tacked on 1.7% and the
American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index
Sectors that were down as trading session neared the finish line: The
S&P Retail Index
lowered 1.3%, the
Morgan Stanley Consumer Index
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
shed 2.7% and the
Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index
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After moving higher this morning,
Treasury prices were falling in the afternoon as equities turned higher.
The benchmark 10-year
Treasury note lately was down 3/32 to 98 25/32, raising its yield to 5.158%.
In economic news,
initial jobless claims
), which track the number of people applying for unemployment benefits for the first time, rose to 348,000 in the week ended Feb.17. Although this is 4,000 more than the prior week's revised number, the figure is substantially lower than the 355,000 that economists had predicted in a
poll. The four-week moving average, however, climbed for the third consecutive week, to 350,750. Still, recent figures suggest that the string of layoffs may be drawing to a close.
The index of
leading economic indicators
), which forecasts economic activity more than half a year in advance, rose by 0.8% in January after having fallen for two consecutive months. The anticipated rise had been for 0.3%.
) fell by 3 points, to 76, last month. The gauge, which had a base value of 100 in 1987, tracks jobs openings in newspapers nationwide.
Consumer Comfort Index
chart ), which measures how consumers view the economy's direction and their participation in it, fell by a point, to 19, for the week ended Feb. 18.
Finally, the surplus in the
) rose to $76.38 billion in January from $32.67 billion in December. It is also $14.2 billion higher than the number from a year ago.
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