The

Dow Jones Industrial Average, off its session highs, still made positive strides on some good news from its components. The

Nasdaq Composite Index, in the meantime, sunk slightly lower, despite some strong gains from the semiconductor sector.

Over the weekend,

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

confirmed that it had reached an agreement to buy fellow blue-chip company

Honeywell

(HON) - Get Report

for $45 billion in stock. As is typically the case, the news put pressure on the buyer, while lifting the object of acquisition. Honeywell up $3.94, or 8.6%, to $49.94 and contributed 23 points to the Dow. GE, however, was down 4.8%, or $2.50, to $49.75, taking away about 15 points from the Dow.

General Electric and Honeywell weren't the only blue-chippers attracting investor attention this afternoon.

Shares of

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

were boosted $2.88, or 3.5%, to $84.75, on the heels of a better-than-expected earnings report on Friday and positive comments from

Salomon Smith Barney

and

PaineWebber

this morning. Merck added 17 to the Dow.

Salomon Smith Barney upgraded the drug stock to an outperform from neutral, while PaineWebber upped the company's 12-month price target to $90 from $81.

A good forecast from

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

lifted its stock $2.56, or 2.9%, to $89.81. This morning, 3M announced third-quarter earnings that beat analysts' estimates by a penny and announced that it would meet earnings expectations for the fourth quarter and next year. The manufacturer recently contributed 21 points of upside to the Dow.

SBC Communications

(SBC)

, popped $3.38, or 6.7%, to $54.13, on the heels of a strong earnings review. The telephone company, which tacked on 20 points to the Dow, said it expects double-digit revenue growth and earnings growth in the mid-teens beginning in 2001.

Today's technology winner was the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

, which was ahead 3.2%. Leading components are

Novellus

(NVLS)

, higher by 7.9% to $42, and

Teradyne

(TER) - Get Report

, up 8.2% to $30.50.

Large-cap technology leader

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

dropped 2.5%. Shares of

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

fell 4.7% on the heels of some profit-taking.

Sector Watch

Transport stocks moved into negative territory today. The

Dow Jones Transportation Average

was down 1.3%. This morning,

PaineWebber

lowered its rating on

UAL

(UAL) - Get Report

, parent of the world's largest airline,

United Airlines

, to neutral from attractive. PaineWebber also lowered earnings estimates for 2000 and 2001. Last Thursday, UAL posted a greater-than-expected third-quarter loss.

Financial stocks took a dip in the deep end of the pool this afternoon. Shares of

Bear Stearns

,

Morgan Stanley

, and

Lehman Brothers

were all down close to 5%.

Continuing problems in the Middle East put more pressure on oil stocks. The

American Stock Exchange Natural Gas Index

fell 0.8%, while the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

dropped 3.4%.

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Bonds/Economy

The bond market was mixed today as many funds move to safe investments in the face of international unrest.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note was down 1/32 to 101 5/32 and yielding 5.594%.

With no economic releases today, there will probably be little news to cause any change in the market's view. Mixed performance in equities and ongoing Mideast tensions are likely to continue to dominate the market's interest.

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