Throw away any expectations you have of how the market typically moves during the Thanksgiving week. Like everything else this month, the week is bucking its trend of traditionally lethargic activity.
A flood of news, including leadership shake-ups, negative notes from analysts and merger talks is shaking the markets, sending the blue-chip
Dow Jones Industrial Average down triple digits and the tech-heavy
Nasdaq back below the psychologically key support level of 3000.
One of the big negative motivators?
. Its bad news started after the bell on Friday when it was announced that Gary Bloom, its executive vice president, was jumping ship to become president and CEO of
. Word is that Bloom was being groomed as next in line to become Oracle's CEO. For more on this, take a look at a
separate story from
. Oracle was downgraded on the news this morning and it was lately off 13.9%.
Online auction house
was cut to neutral from buy by
Holly Becker. She said in the note that although she believes eBay is one of the most valuable Internet "franchises," the company's "aggressive 2005 sales projections have raised a red flag." Becker also said she's concerned about slowing in eBay's core business and that the company's aggressive 2005 sales projections may cost more money and require more time than eBay had projected.
And Lehman's Jeffrey Applegate issued a conservative earnings forecast for the
S&P 500. The report from the influential strategies was weighing on the market. The S&P 500, which includes companies from a broad cross-section of the economy's leading industries, was down 1.6%.
Applegate, who has been bullish on the stock market since March, said he recognizes that his stance has been misplaced, but doesn't expect recent action to serve as a "prologue" for the market. Applegate remains bullish on what's to come for performance, but says his earnings growth estimates were a little too optimistic. The strategist cut his third-quarter S&P earnings per share growth to 10% from 13%, but maintained his 2001 price-target of 1800 on the S&P. He wrote that Treasuries will continue to perform well and moved his 20% allocation of cash into bonds.
Analysts were certainly keeping themselves busy today.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
cut its ratings on networking companies
. And it lowered its price target on
to $75 from $90. Cisco was off 3.9%. Juniper was losing 16.5%, while Redback was 10.5% lower.
It wasn't just the new economy companies that were having a hard morning.
and other banks were suffering with
Bank of America
, which was downgraded this morning by
Credit Suisse First Boston
. CSFB cut Bank of America's earnings estimates for the fourth quarter to $1.13 per share from $1.33. Morgan was down 2.3% and was helping to drag down the Dow.
Last week, Bank of America sparked concern that banks are dealing with a rising number of problem loans. Bank of America participated with
and Morgan Stanley in a loan of $1.7 billion in March 1998 to troubled consumer products maker
. Last week, Sunbeam said it was deferring payments of its credit pact.
was another one of the big drags on the Dow. It was off 6.2% on news that it bid $15 billion for
. Coca-Cola is after Quaker for its popular sports drink Gatorade. Recently, Quaker was popping 8.2% on the news.
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TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index, known as the
DOT, was down 6%. Every component was down. Much of the pressure was coming from eBay.
was down 5% after a French court ordered the site to bar French users from sites selling Nazi memorabilia. Although its French portal doesn't have auctions of such memorabilia, users can easily click to English-language services that do. Yahoo! fought the case, saying its services are governed under the U.S. Constitution and cannot bar Nazi-related material.
eBay and Yahoo aren't alone. Tech in general was having an absolutely lousy day. The
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index
, which tracks the companies that make computers, was down 3.7%.
to buy from strong buy and it moved
to hold from buy. The
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
was off 2.3%.
So what's an investor focused on the near term to do? Money was moving from tech and banks to the typical safehaven: Gold. The
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index
was up 1,7%.
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Bond prices were rallying after selling off on Friday. The benchmark 10-year
Treasury note was up 8/32 at 100 18/32, yielding 5.673%.
Bond prices fell Friday with long-maturity issues falling for the first trading session in five sessions, in what market-watchers said was partly a response to the prospect of a
George W. Bush
presidency and partly just profit-taking.
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