Market Update: Indices Seesaw Amid Earnings Worries - TheStreet

Continued fears of slowing earnings growth pressured the

Nasdaq Composite Index at the open following several earnings warnings from tech companies last night and this morning, including PC-making bellwether

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

.

Some saw yesterday's early morning dip to 3382 on the Nasdaq as a bottom, or the level at which fund managers and investors decide that stocks look attractive enough to buy. But the market couldn't seem to decide. The Nasdaq was flipping around in early action.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average was doing some of the same. After rallying through the Nasdaq's pain during the past week, the blue-chip index was hopping between red and green.

The

S&P 500 was narrowly in the red, while

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was falling under

priceline.com

(PCLN)

pressure again. The company, which warned of a revenue weakness late last month, announced this morning that it would shut down operations of its Web-house gas and groceries licensee.

Semiconductors were getting whacked this morning, despite

blowout fiscal fourth-quarter earnings from chip-making bellwether

Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Report

last night.

UBS Warburg

cut estimates and

ABN Amro

cut the price target on Micron this morning.

Analysts were happy with the fourth-quarter numbers, but worried about chip prices

going forward. Micron was off 7.1%. Other semiconductor stocks

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

and

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

were also lower, off 0.3% and 3.8%.

Dell's

(DELL) - Get Report

warning was tugging the other PC-makers lower, including

Compaq

(CPQ)

,

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

,

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

. Dell was off 7.8%, Compaq was 6.9% lower, H-P was down 4.3%, IBM was losing 1.8% and Apple was off 2.9%

H-P and IBM were the culprits for the Dow's late malaise, lately stealing over 22 and 10 points from the index, respectively.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

,

Pitney Bowes

(PBI) - Get Report

and retailer

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

were slipping after issuing earnings warnings. Pitney was off 29.7% and J.C. Penney was down 5.6%.

TheStreet.com

has been tracking many of the warnings in a

separate chart.

The first

Dow Jones Industrial Average component to issue a report this season, Alcoa

(AA) - Get Report

this morning reported earnings in line with expectations. The world's largest aluminum manufacturer, Alcoa is already up 11.2% for the week.

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Sector Watch

Airline stocks were rising for a third day in a row, boosting the

American Stock Exchange Airline Index

2.5% and the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

0.7%.

Delta

(DAL) - Get Report

was flat at $45.75.

Paper were shedding recent strength, weighing on the

Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index

, which was off 1.1%, and the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Forest & Paper Products Index

, which was down 2%. Shared components

Georgia-Pacific

(GP)

and

International Paper

(IP) - Get Report

were both down.

The energy sector, which has been falling all week, continued down after oil prices fell overnight. The

American Stock Exchange Natural Gas Index

was off 0.8%, the

Chicago Board Options Exchange Oil Index

was down 1.2%, and the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

was 0.5% lower.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasuries are little changed on not much news ahead of tomorrow's release of the September

employment report, the most important economic report to roll around each month.

There are no major economic reports today, although at 2 p.m. EDT the

Federal Open Market Committee will release the minutes of its Aug. 22 meeting.

At its most recent meeting on Tuesday, the FOMC

cited the still-high level of labor-force utilization -- aka low unemployment rates -- as its main reason for maintaining its aggressive posture on interest rates.

The employment report will provide the latest readings on unemployment, with possible implications for monetary policy. In August, the regular unemployment rate stood at 4.1% and the

augmentedunemploymentrate -- the measure preferred by the

Fed -- stood at 6.9%.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was up 2/32 to 98 31/32 and yielding 5.888%.

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