The bloody red that was spread all over the screen earlier in the session receded a little during the end of today's session, but the Dow still ended off more than 100 points.

The major indices were still smarting over what

Fed Chairman

Alan Greenspan didn't

say yesterday when he

spoke before the

Senate Banking Committee

. While all was not forgotten, they were at least starting to forgive.

On Tuesday, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average and the

Nasdaq Composite Index dropped on the lack of urgency in Greenspan's testimony. Today, they continued to get hurt, but the Nasdaq, at least, ended in the green.

Although it ended off its lows, the Dow still posted a triple-digit losses, which when added with yesterday's losses, wiped out the 165 point-gain it made on Monday. Only five of its 30 components were on the upside, including the tech triumvirate of

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

,

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

had been down earlier, but turned up slightly.

The software behemoth was suffering earlier in the day after a leadership

shakeup and news of a probe by the

Justice Department

into its $135 million investment in

Corel

(CORL)

, which publishes WordPerfect word-processing software. Regulators are investigating whether the alliance threatens competition in the office software market.

The biggest drag on the Dow was diversified manufacturer

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

, which has been making steady gains, for the most part, since the beginning of the month. The maker of Scotch tape and Post-It notes looks like it was the victim of some profit-taking, off 2.8% to $110.97.

And while tech seemed to be leading the way in today's trading, there has been no real leadership in the market in the past several weeks. More and more people are saying that the market's simply going to drift until the second half of the year, when the rate cuts will start to be felt. Even more, the market is waiting for consumer sentiment and confidence to improve, which will bring investors and money back.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq was back in positive territory after a fairly volatile morning.

JDS Uniphase

(JDSU)

was the most actively traded stock on the Comp. It's had an up and down day, too. It ended 7.1% higher to $41.25 lately. The fiber-optics component supplier, which completed its merger with former rival

SDL

(SDLI)

, warned yesterday after the close that its third-quarter earnings would miss estimates, citing uncertainty in capital spending plans by telecom carriers and customer inventory adjustments.

The news still hurt related optical stocks, though, with

Nortel Networks

(NT)

and

Corning

(GLW) - Get Report

on the downside.

And non-tech company

Coldwater Creek

(CWTR)

fell 43.4% to $20 after the women's clothing retailer cut its fourth-quarter earnings estimates to between 4 cents and 7 cents a share because of sales shortfalls. The

First Call/Thomson Financial

seven-analyst estimate for the quarter was 66 cents.

There were some bright spots on the index, though, including

Sycamore Networks

(SCMR)

, which announced

better-than-expected earnings after Tuesday's close. It was up 16.6%. The news helped competitor

Ciena

(CIEN) - Get Report

, which was up 11% to $76.81.

Also on the upside was

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

, which was getting some lift off of its good earnings announcement after yesterday's close.

J.P. Morgan

upped the company to a long-term buy from market performer on the announcement. Still, the company offered up a dim outlook for the future, sparking a stream of EPS cuts. The stock was up 13.5% to $46.81.

Elsewhere, on the

New York Stock Exchange,

ConAgra

(CAG) - Get Report

got flattened 19.5% to $20.01 after it announced that it had to

lower its earnings estimates because of higher energy costs and the slowing economy.

Sector Watch

Semis were bouncing today, with help from the aforementioned Applied Materials. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was up 7.8%. Component

Xilinx

(XLNX) - Get Report

, up 7.3% to $51.25, announced that it would expand its Irish unit, creating 500 new jobs.

Another factor helping the sector was the note from J.P. Morgan, which raised not only Applied Materials to long-term buy from market performer, but also

KLA-Tencor

(KLAC) - Get Report

,

Novellus Systems

(NVLS)

,

ASM Lithography

(ASML) - Get Report

and

Varian Semiconductor Equipment

(VSEA)

.

Also getting in on the action were computer hardware makers. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

gained 3.3%, with much help coming from

Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Report

, up 12.1%, and

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

, 6.2% higher.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasury prices are mixed. The market has little to respond to until more-relevant economic data is released at the end of the week. Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan's Senate testimony yesterday was less aggressive in the context of interest rates than traders had wanted. Although Greenspan discussed the fragile economy and even suggested that a recovery might not gather pace until much later this year, he also hinted that the fundamentals were properly configured for now to help the revival.

A

Reuters

poll of 25 Wall Street bond dealers shows that the majority expect a half-point cut in the

fed funds rate at the next

Federal Open Market Committee meeting on March 20.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was down 15/32 to 99, raising its yield to 5.129%.

In economic news,

business inventories

(

definition |

chart |

source

) rose by 0.1% for the month of December, down from 0.3% in the previous month. The growth was .1% less than economists had predicted and the smallest rise seen since January 1999. The trend confirms Greenspan's observations yesterday that information technology is enabling companies to better balance their stock of goods when faced with fluctuating demand. The year-to-year rise in the number also dropped to 6.1% from 6.6%; it's now at its lowest level since May.

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