A typical day of shopping errands generally includes items like new pants, cigarettes, brake fluid, potato chips, soda, tissues, masking tape, aspirin and jet engines. (OK, jet engines are a reach, but considering the size of some of these stores, one never knows.) Companies that make those products, and the stores that sell them, are up today.

Which means the defensive stocks in the

Dow Jones Industrial Average are hanging on, while the rest of the market continues to slide. The average, higher for most of the morning, is now down, as investors are taking losses in technology and extending them to other sectors.

The

S&P 500 was lately down too, and the

Nasdaq Composite Index is falling, as investors watch, a day after Presidents' Day, their Lincolns and Washingtons get flushed down the toilet. After Friday's selloff -- led by

Nortel Networks

(NT)

-- investors are wary of technology, and the Nasdaq's losses have mounted as the trading day progresses.

Among the hardest-hit Nasdaq stocks today are tech bellwethers

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

and

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

. Both, in fact, have hit a 52-week low today: Cisco, the most actively traded stock on the Nasdaq, was lately down 6.4% to $26.50, while Sun was down 1.6% to $22.88. Meanwhile,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

, which warned last week of ongoing weakness in earnings, was also in the dumpster, losing 5.3%.

Optical player and market darling

JDS Uniphase

(JDSU)

was another stock touching a new low today. The second most actively traded issue on the Nasdaq, it was lately down 7.1% to $33.25.

The malaise in technology is blamed on a

muddled earnings picture. For several quarters, expectations for earnings were overly optimistic; investors were bitten in the tushes for their belief that the growth rates of 1999 and early 2000 would continue with no problem. Executives are no longer sure what coming quarters hold, and despite a January surge founded on the expectation that Fed rate cuts would quickly reverse a staggering economy, the earnings picture is still dank.

The Dow, meanwhile, was seeing a tug-of-war between its tech components and those defensive names. Blue-chip techs

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

,

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

were taking off a combined 43 points at last look.

The Dow's stars today were retailing giant

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

and home-improvement leader

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

. They were doing their darnedest to try to keep the index afloat. Wal-Mart

beat estimates, while Home Depot

met lowered earnings estimates, and investors were buying those stocks. The

S&P Retail Index

was lately up 2.7%.

The other stocks doing a tremendous job today were food stocks.

Tricon Global Restaurants

(YUM) - Get Report

hit a new 52-week high today, gaining 1.3%, while food service, grocery, beverage and beer stocks were all stronger today.

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Sector Watch

Financials and tech stocks were getting the most flack from investors. The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

was off 4.1%, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index

was down 2.5%.

The tech sector was getting soaked. The PC makers, the chipmakers and the networking stocks were all taking it on the chin. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index was down 3.7%, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

dropped 4.4% and the

American Stock Exchange Networking Index

was down 3.1%.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasury prices are down in very thin trading as the money market has little to respond to except equity movements. According to

IFRmarkets.com

, which does market flow analysis, current trading volume is about 50% lower than the average of last week.

Notes and bonds, after having sold higher in the previous session due to very weak -- and potentially inflationary -- reports on producer prices and consumer sentiment, seem to be sliding again in response to rising stocks. Analysts expect this trend to continue for most of this week.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was down 4/32 to 99, raising its yield to 5.129%.

The

Standard & Poor's

speculative grade credit index, which measures the difference between the yields of government Treasuries and those of bonds rated below BBB+, was at 894.5 basis points, or 8.945%, on Friday. The difference has steadily decreased from a high of 10.74% on Jan. 2, just before the

Federal Reserve began cutting rates. Expectation that the economy will recover with help from the Fed has sent U.S. Treasury prices lower on weakening demand, preventing yields from falling further. (Prices and yields move inversely.) This has contributed to the narrowing of the index.

A recent survey by the

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

estimates that the U.S.

gross domestic product

(

definition |

chart |

source

) should grow by about 2.2% in 2001, down from the 3.3% annual growth that was forecast two months ago. However, that's not likely to jolt the market, as most economists and regional Fed presidents lately have been pegging the growth rate at 2% to 2.5%.

There is no economic news due out today.

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