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Mush! Mush! Mush!

Trading was very thin as New Yorkers were spending more time watching the skies for signs of an approaching blizzard than looking at the ticker tape. So movements were light and news was scarce. Hitch up the doggies and get out of town! Look for afternoon trading to be even lighter -- if that's even possible.

So with a whiteout on the horizon and a blackout on the newsfront, American markets were trading lower. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average was hovering around the flatline, and the

Nasdaq Composite Index was down double digits. The Comp was off 37.1% for the year to yesterday's close.

Now, one of the most important numbers to keep an eye on today is the Comp's point gain -- if it gets out of the red. Eighty-three is the magic number. If the Comp can gain 83 points today, or 2%, then this will not go down in the books as the worst ever year for the index. The current worst end-to-end performance was 1974, when the Comp dropped 35.1%.

And this kind of move seems unlikely, especially with the Nasdaq in the red, traders in short supply and really, zero incentive to buy the beaten technology-related stocks. Within the market, though, some tech stocks were doing quite well.

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Juniper Networks, Inc. Report

, for example, which has been something of a hothead lately, was initially scorching away from the pack. Over the past six trading sessions, this stock has gone up from $90 to $144, including a 30-point post-Christmas bonanza that even got our own

Jim Cramer talking. (Then again, what doesn't get Cramer talking?)

But lately it was lower by $6.63, or 4.8%, to $131.81. It is one of the most-watched Nasdaq movers today after opening at $144.

On the large-cap technology front, the sellers were still out there. Foolish people have been talking about window-dressing and end-of-the-year tax selling, but honestly, the window for getting a tax loss in 2000 is over and when the cupboard is bare -- who the heck cares about the windows?

JDS Uniphase


was lately one of the few tech stocks in the green -- barely. Other tech stocks that were doing OK earlier this morning but lately were down included:

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(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

, down 1.8% to $43.75, and


(QCOM) - Get Qualcomm Inc Report

, down by 2.9% to $86.75, and

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Sunworks, Inc. Report

, off fractionally to $28.88. Those destroyed dot-coms weren't really showing much of a pulse this morning. Internet Sector

index coughed up close to 75% of its value this year. At one point, it traded above the 1,100 level -- and today it was down 2.7% to 302.4. That's more than just painful -- that's

Celine Dion

live at the Apollo. It's a horrifying spectacle that makes eyes bleed.

And as

America Online's


merger with



continues down the rocky road to acceptance, the rest of the Internet names were taking a dive. AOL was off 1.1%, while Warner fell 1.7%.

After clearing the first government hurdle, getting acceptance from the

Federal Trade Commission

, the combined companies were facing down the

Federal Communications Commission

. The FCC controls communications -- even new kinds -- despite the fact that most people know it as nothing more than

Howard Stern's

frequent nemesis. And this role means that the FCC is concerned about a would-be monopoly on communications -- especially the highly-popular

Instant Messenger

market, where AOL has a big lead on rivals Microsoft and




And speaking of Yahoo!, it was sliding yet again. That said, so was

(AMZN) - Get, Inc. Report

. Jeff Bezos' seller of more-than-just books was dipping 5.4%. This caps a very bad year -- one that opened with high hopes, a slate of oddball Christmas commercials and the unveiling of z-Shops,'s foray into selling more than hardcovers.

Back to the Dow, the blue-chips were having a ho-hum day. After opening in the green, these guys have slipped back into the red. There were few movers in excess of a buck, but the losers were led by easing in


(MMM) - Get 3M Company Report

, which spent yesterday pushing the Dow higher.

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. Report

was lately the biggest drag on the index. Morgan had been on a tear in the wake of the recent

Fed action to move to an easing bias from a tightening bias. Now salivating investors are hoping the Fed'll slash rates in January.



(IBM) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report

, which shrugged off a revenue estimate cut from

Prudential Securities

yesterday, continued to shrug today and post some gains as well.

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Sector Watch

After yesterday's valiant, yet failed, attempt to rally, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

slid 3.7% today.

Like the aforementioned dip in's

Internet index, the other tech sectors weren't much better. The

American Stock Exchange Networking Index

fell 2.2%. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Box Maker Index

fell 1.5%.

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Treasuries were gaining a little ground this morning as investors quietly moved into the bonds and out of equities. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note was lately up 5/32 to 104 27/32 with a yield of 5.104%. Other bonds were inching higher on small trades.

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