The

Nasdaq Composite Index took a downward turn a little before noon and continued to slide further into the red. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average has reversed course more than once but was lately still above the break-even line.

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

issued a post-close announcement on Friday that it will

miss profit expectations by about 15% because of euro weakness and a softening North America construction industry, among other factors. Even though the stock was subsequently downgraded by

PaineWebber

, Caterpillar was lately up 8.4%.

But the Dow was really getting killed by another downgraded stock:

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

. Lehman downgraded Boeing to neutral from outperform this morning, saying the stock was "fully valued on aggressive" EPS estimates. The research note also said that the loss of a major order from

Singapore Airlines

"raises new concerns" regarding the future of Boeing 747s. The airplane maker was lately taking about 30 points away from the index.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

and

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

were both trending down, putting pressure on the Comp and the Dow.

Intel was lower on news it had canceled plans for a new low-cost computer chip and reportedly expects to delay the introduction of its next-generation processor, the Pentium IV. That doesn't bode well for the company or the industry at a time when Wall Street is worried about slowing PC and chip demand. Investors have been hacking away at Intel's share price since the company warned of an earnings shortfall in mid-September.

TheStreet.com

wrote Friday about the plans to

cancel the cheap chip.

In merger news,

FleetBoston

(FBF)

agreed to buy

Summit

for $7 billion in stock, giving it New Jersey's No. 1 market share. That's a premium of more than 40% to its price before Tuesday rumors and Wednesday news of the talks pushed Summit's shares to new levels.

TheStreet.com

wrote about the deal in a

separate story. Fleet was falling 3.4% on active volume.

And merger mania in the power sector continues, with

NorthWestern

(NOR)

power company announcing plans to buy

Montana Power's

(MTP) - Get Report

energy distribution unit. Both stocks were up on the news.

Elsewhere in market-moving news,

Ford

(F) - Get Report

cut the price of most of its models sold in Britain by 5% to 13%, the company said. The company decided to cut prices in order to encourage more retail buying in the U.K. and stabilize sales there. The stock was lately rising 2.9%.

Sector Watch

There was a lot of red on the screen this afternoon, but energy stocks were bucking the trend.

The

Dow Jones Transportation Average

, off 2.2%, was weighed down by most components, but

US Freightways

(USFC)

,

Ryder

(R) - Get Report

,

CSX

(CSX) - Get Report

and

Alexander & Baldwin

(ALEX) - Get Report

were its biggest detractors.

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Forest & Paper Products Index

was down 3.3%. Component

Bowater

(BOW)

was 2.8% lower on news that it was acquiring a South Korean newsprint mill.

The

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

was up 1.8% and the

Chicago Board Options Exchange Oil Index

rose 1.7%.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasuries are mixed, with short-maturity issues holding their ground while long-maturity issues slump in response to rallying oil prices.

A smaller-than-expected increase in the

Purchasing Managers' Index

(

definition |

chart |

source

) is positive for the bond market, particularly after the

Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index

(

definition |

chart ) last week experienced a much-larger-than-expected rise. The national index rose to 49.9 in September from 49.5 in August.

But while the PMI affirms that economic growth is proceeding at a slower pace, rising oil prices pose an inflationary threat, prompting bond investors to demand higher yields on long-maturity issues.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note lately was down 4/32 at 99 14/32, lifting its yield to 5.825%.

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