The

Nasdaq Composite and the

Dow were getting their footing on the upside after a morning of indecision.

Some big tech stocks, including

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

,

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

and semiconductor manufacturer

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, were bouncing today.

But they were fighting the native tide of one of the Nasdaq's most actively traded stocks:

Network Appliance

(NTAP) - Get Report

was 16.8% lower after the networking data storage company announced earnings that beat estimates by a penny. But it also forecast slower sales growth. On the news,

Bear Stearns

downgraded the stock to attractive from buy.

Software company

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

edged Network Appliance out to be the days's most active stock on the Nasdaq. It was rallying back from recent lows and lately was up 2.2% the day after jumping on news that it would team up with

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

to integrate each others' technologies and services.

And have you looked at

MP3

(MPPP)

recently? The stock jumped 56%. Okay, so that translates into a gain of only $2.25 to bring its stock to $6.25. Still. It was shooting up after announcing that it would restart its my.mp3.com service with a pay option by the end of November. Yesterday, the company was ordered to pay $53.4 million to

Universal

as a result of a copyright infringement case.

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom

covered the lawsuit in a separate story.

So who's not happy today?

Hewlett Packard

(HWP)

was giving back yesterday's gains. Hewlett, a computer and imaging company, has taken quite a ride since it announced on Monday that it missed earnings estimates by a dime. It rebounded Tuesday as investors decided tech stocks looked oversold.

Battered retailers have been in focus this week as a flurry of companies report their third-quarter earnings.

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

was up again today despite its downward tone about its

fourth-quarter earnings. The

S&P Retail Index

was up 1.4%. Wal-Mart was 4.4% higher.

But activity could get more interesting as the afternoon progresses. The

Federal Open Market Committee is meeting to decide the direction of interest rates. While no one is expecting the Fed to change interest rates, it is less certain what the committee will say about the

risks of inflation going forward.

Sector Watch

With no real resolution on the election front, many stocks expected to benefit from a Bush win of the White House -- such as drugs and tobacco -- were pulling back today. The

American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index

, which tracks the drug sector, and the

American Stock Exchange Tobacco Index

were both lower.

Paper stocks had strength again today. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Forest & Paper Products Index

was rising 2.6% on consolidation fever.

Georgia-Pacific

(GP)

said yesterday that it expected its $7.5 billion bid for

Fort James

(FJ)

to close "very soon" after its recently extended regulatory review. Also yesterday,

Weyerhaeuser

(WY) - Get Report

confirmed that it had financing for its proposed acquisition of

Willamette Industries

(WLL) - Get Report

.

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Bonds/Economy

Bonds were stronger today in the hope of good news on interest rates from today's

Fed policy meeting. There is a minority opinion that the Fed may move to a neutral bias about inflation, which suggests there would no further interest rate increases in the near term.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note is at 100 4/32, up 9/32, to yield 5.734%.

The 30-year

Treasury bond is at 106 11/32, up 8/32, to yield 5.800%.

Historically low interest rates are still helping to keep consumers interested in the housing market. The

Mortgage Applications Survey

(

definition |

chart |

source

) for the week ended November 10 rose 6% to 690.4 from 651.2 in the previous week.

Business inventories

(

definition |

chart |

source

) for September edged up 0.1% after a rise of 0.7% in August. A rise of 0.3% had been expected. This was the slowest pace of increas in nearly two years. While stockpiling slowed, sales didn't. Businesses reported sales of $905 billion, as sales grew by 0.4% for the second month in a row (on revised August figures).

October's

industrial production

(

definition |

chart |

source

) index fell 0.1%, below expectation of a rise of 0.2%, after a 0.4% increase in September. A decline in auto production was the major factor.

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