The market was just being a stick in the mud today.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average lately was languishing in the downside, while the

Nasdaq Composite Index was pulling off a slight rally.

The Nasdaq got a running start at the opening bell fueled by mostly good earnings announcements. The Dow from the get-go was suffering from profit-taking. Both indices have had a somewhat volatile, though uninspired day.

The Dow was getting drag from 24 of its components.

American Express

(AXP) - Get American Express Company Report

and

United Technologies

undefined

were taking the most from the blue-chip index, but it was component

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. (HD) Report

that was the bad-news bearer today.

The home improvement retailer guided earnings estimates lower for a second straight quarter, due to the slowing in consumer demand and declines in materials prices, such as lumber. The stock was off 5.1% to $42.

The blue-chip index's positive momentum was coming mainly from its tech components,

IBM

(IBM) - Get International Business Machines (IBM) Report

,

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

,

Intel

(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation (INTC) Report

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report

.

In fact, Microsoft was contributing the most to the Dow's positive side. Last night, the software giant, which was one of the most actively traded stocks today, beat its fourth-quarter revenue estimates and noted a 20% increase in unearned revenue from a year ago - which points to greater future revenues. The company

met reduced earnings estimates. Microsoft was up 9.2% to $60.63.

Elsewhere on the Comp, Internet auction site

eBay

(EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report

was up 9.6% to $51.44 after

beating earnings and revenue estimates. Earnings came in at 9 cents, 2 cents ahead of forecasts. eBay, one of the few profitable Internet companies, announced Tuesday that it would raise the fees it charges to list items for auction in its Canadian business, giving investors further confidence in the company's business model. eBay was rewarded with a slew of analyst upgrades.

Others reporting good news that were resulting in some good old-fashioned rallying were

BMC Software

(BMCS)

,

Emulex

(EMLX)

and

Nortel Networks

(NT)

. BMC Software was up 7.9% to $32.59, Emulex was rising 6.2% to $103.50 and Nortel was 8.1% higher to $39.75.

With all the good news that came out after last night's close, the Comp really should have been getting a nice a bounce instead of this slight one, but it seemed to be getting a big downward tug from

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Sunworks, Inc. Report

. The networker, which was the most actively traded stock on the Nasdaq of late, met earnings estimates, but

missed revenue estimates. The stock lately was down 12.7% to $30.50.

The company also lowered its 2001 sales growth guidance, sparking downgrades and earnings cuts by a slew of analysts, including

SG Cowen

,

UBS Warburg

and

Lehman Brothers

.

And there were others in the Comp that were acting up. Internet player

TheStreet Recommends

Critical Path

(CPTH)

posted a loss far greater than expected. Actually, the company had previously said that it expected to be profitable by its fourth quarter, but the Internet messaging and mail software company is now saying it won't be profitable for three more quarters. It got hit with a downgrade to buy from strong buy from

Robertson Stephens

. Critical Path was 51.7% lower to $9.44.

ADC Telecommunications

(ADCT) - Get ADC Therapeutics SA Report

lately was falling after it warned this morning that its first-quarter earnings would miss estimates because of lower spending by customers.

ABN Amro

and SG Cowen acted quickly and downgraded the stock. In recent trading the stock was down 27.6% to $15.44.

Back to top

Sector Watch

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

was up 2.9%. It was still getting some residual boost from

IBM's

(IBM) - Get International Business Machines (IBM) Report

stellar earnings report. IBM was up 4.6% to $113.31.

Dell

(DELL) - Get Dell Technologies Inc Class C Report

was also bouncing, 9% higher. The PC maker got a nice upgrade to buy from hold from

Credit Suisse First Boston

this morning.

Delta Air Lines

(DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. Report

was helping to take down the

American Stock Exchange Airline Index

, off 2.7%, and the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

, 2.5% lower. Yesterday, the airline announced that its earnings declined 54%. At the beginning of January, Delta had warned that a labor dispute with its pilots would cut revenue.

The

S&P Retail Index

was falling 3.2% after Home Depot's news.

Best Buy

(BBY) - Get Best Buy Co., Inc. Report

,

The Gap

(GPS) - Get Gap, Inc. (GPS) Report

and

May Department Stores

(MAY)

were among other retailers taking a beating today.

Back to top

Bonds/Economy

Treasuries have been trading lower today as investors take profits after bonds' three-day rally. The strong opening in equities, paced by better-than-expected earnings from prime tech movers, has also lessened the draw of fixed-income instruments. But stocks are mostly in retreat now, giving Treasuries some breathing space. The long bond, which had led the money market rally over the past week, is still deep in the red. Yields are up marginally across the board.

Notes and bonds had rebounded in recent days on renewed hopes that the

Federal Reserve will lower interest rates by half a percentage point.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was down 11/32 to 104 14/32, raising its yield to 5.158%.

In economic news, the

international trade

(

definition |

chart |

source

) report showed that the deficit narrowed to $32.99 billion in November from a revised reading of $33.55 in the prior month. This is the first time since mid-1997 that the deficit has declined two months in a row. Imports as well as exports fell. The trade data, however, lags behind the latest news about the economy. Currently available numbers support the view that the economy is slowing.

The

Consumer Sentiment Index

(

definition |

chart ) fell to 93.6 in January from 98.4 in December, its lowest level since Oct. 1998. The gauge measures the confidence consumers have in the economy six to nine months in the future.