Technology stocks, which had burst through a cloudy session on Wall Street, ended back in negative territory. The

Nasdaq Composite Index ended off 43 points. Meanwhile, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average's, which dropped as much as 400 points earlier today, then rallied back above the psychologically important 10,000 level, ended just below it, losing 115 to 9,975.

Shares of

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

, currently the third-most actively traded Nasdaq stock, rose, but were down 1.19, or 1.1%, to $110.19, on the heels of a strong earnings report. The large-cap tech company posted earnings of 30 cents a share, topping the 20-analyst 26 cent estimate and the year-ago 16 cent result.

Semiconductor giant

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

ended ahead $2, or 5.5%, to $38.19. Yesterday evening, the chip giant posted earnings that beat its revised expectations.

Other tech stocks lifting the Nasdaq off its lows includes

PeopleSoft

(PSFT)

and

Handspring

(HAND)

. Both companies impressed Wall Street with good earnings news last night.

PeopleSoft, a software manufacturer, posted third-quarter earnings of 8 cents a share, beating the 14-analyst estimate by a penny. The company also announced that it would buy back up to $100 million of its stock. This morning,

ING Barings

upped its rating on the company to buy from hold. In recent action, PeopleSoft popped 25.8%.

Handspring

(HAND)

reported a loss of 8 cents a share for its first quarter, ahead of the five-analyst estimate of a negative 12 cent result. Lately, the personal digital assistant, or PDA, stock was up 17.6%.

But today's session, as market watchers know well, was not a lot of fun.

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

chopped 104 points off the Dow. After the closing bell yesterday, Big Blue posted earnings that beat estimates, but revenue at the low end of Wall Street's expectations. Big Blue was also cautious about its fourth quarter.

TheStreet.com

covered

IBM's announcement in depth in an earlier story.

Not surprisingly, the Wall Street went negative on IBM today. Both

Merrill Lynch

and

Bear Stearns

lowered their earnings estimates for the company.

Prudential Securities

TheStreet Recommends

cut its rating on IBM to hold from accumulate and

Goldman Sachs

removed IBM from its recommended list.

Shares of

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

dropped $4.94, or 5.5%, to $85.56 in sympathy with IBM.

Today,

Chase Manhattan

(CMB)

reported a lower-than-expected profit. Chase blamed Nasdaq losses for hurting

results at its venture capital arm. Chase was off 2.8% to $36.88. J.P. Morgan, Chase's merger partner, reported earnings today that beat estimates, but in sympathy with its new acquirer, Chase, it was down 2.4% to $134.25.

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Sector Watch

Both paper and retail stocks attracted positive investor attention in recent action. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Forest & Paper Products Index

was up 6.4%, while the

S&P Retail Index

was ahead 2.4%.

Drugs, traditionally defensive stocks, declined, even though many drug companies have reported strong earnings. Some analysts were blaming Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, who was tough on the drug companies again last night. The

American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index

was down 1%.

Oil stocks have declined in afternoon trading. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

was down 0.4%, while the

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

was behind 1.3%.

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Bonds/Economy

Most of the bond market rallied strongly as funds move into safer investments following ongoing signs of weakness in equity markets. But, after being higher for most of the day, the benchmark 10-year note ended slightly lower.

The market was relatively unconcerned by today's

Consumer Price Index

(

definition |

chart |

source

) for September. The results showed a 0.5% rise in the headline number and a 0.3% increase in the core rate. Energy prices rose 3.8% in the latest month, a big turnaround from August's 2.9% drop. On an annual basis, CPI is now running at a 3.8% rate, well ahead of last year's 2.7% increase.

After the CPI data, the market rallied sharply, but the benchmark 10-year

Treasury note ended down 3/32 to 100 13/32, to yield 5.694%. The bond market is clearly much more concerned with the weak performance of the stock market and its implications for lower interest rates than it is with the growing signs of inflationary pressure in the economy.

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