Market Update: Nasdaq Remains Red-Tinted; Dow Steady in Green

<LI>SOX turns down after an up morning.</LI><LI>Gateway leads boxmakers lower.</LI><LI>Biotech goes green after yesterday's stumble.</LI>
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The

Nasdaq was sorely lacking in positive vibes this afternoon.

Earlier today, the Comp had a brief reprieve from the downside, but tumbled back in the red a little before the lunch hour. It has been sliding ever since.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average, meanwhile, was holding on to respectable, if not outstanding, gains.

Giving some lift and direction was today's release of the revised

gross domestic product

report for October, which shows the economy in the third quarter grew at its slowest pace in four years. Revised GDP rose 2.4% in the quarter, higher than the 2.2% rate that had been expected though lower than the 2.7% that had originally been announced.

But this good news had to counter the weight of negative research notes as well as the lingering fear of slowing corporate earnings.

The downtrodden

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was back to its old ways after an up morning. The sector, which tracks chip stocks, got back some of that good feeling after a couple of analyst calls on communications chipmakers.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

upgraded communications chipmaker

Broadcom

(BRCM)

, which got smacked down Monday on a price target cut by

Salomon Smith Barney

. The stock recently was trading up 6.7% to $90.75.

But

Merrill Lynch

analyst

Joseph Osha

issued a cautious report on the group, in particular Broadcom,

Vitesse Semiconductor

(VTSS)

,

Applied Micro Circuits

(AMCC)

,

Transwitch

(TXCC)

and

PMC Sierra

(PMCS)

. Aside from Broadcom, PMC Sierra was the only one in the group rallying.

Osha said he still believed that the growth rate of orders for the first quarter of next year would mark the first sign of trouble for those communications chipmakers. But he added that weakness wouldn't apply to other semiconductor companies. He called an argument for a sustained downturn "questionable." Merrill's report also said that December earnings for these companies are not at risk.

ADC Telecommunications

(ADCT) - Get Report

was up after it posted better-than-expected earnings last night. It lately was up 6.8%.

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

, which tracks the companies that make computers, was slipping. One of the drags:

Gateway

(GTW)

, which got hit with lowered sales estimates from Merrill Lynch. The brokerage dropped its fourth-quarter sales growth estimates to 24% growth, or $3.04 billion, from 28% growth, or $3.135 billion. Merrill kept its 63-cent earnings-per-share estimate intact. Gateway was losing 11.6%.

The Dow was getting the most negative pull from

ExxonMobil

(XOM) - Get Report

, which was downgraded to add from buy at

ABN Amro

. Drug maker

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

and retailer

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

were the biggest standouts and helped outweigh any weakness.

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Sector Watch

The Street.com E-Finance Index

was down 4%. The sector's still suffering after yesterday's note from

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

that cut earnings and revenue estimates on

Ameritrade

(AMTD) - Get Report

,

E-Trade

(EGRP)

and

Charles Schwab

(SCH)

.

The

Nasdaq Biotechnology Index

was back in the green after falling 5.7% yesterday. It was lately up 0.2%. Some pundits are convinced the biotechs are ready for a bit of a rally.

ING Barings

this morning initiated coverage of six therapeutic biotechnology companies with buy or strong buy ratings.

Oil-related stocks were suffering today. The

American Stock Exchange Natural Gas Index

was down 4.3% and the

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

was 2.9% lower. Crude oil prices lately were down a bit from yesterday's close. The price of oil has been under pressure a bit lately after climbing in the past few months.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasuries are higher following the downward revision to third-quarter economic growth, even though the revised growth rate was higher than expected. The downturn in stock prices is helping, as is the completion of the Treasury Department's monthly two-year note auction.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was up 9/32 at 101 15/32, lowering its yield to 5.551%.

The government revised lower its estimate of third-quarter

gross domestic product growth to 2.4% from 2.7%. That is the slowest rate since the third quarter of 1996, but not as slow as economists were expecting. Economists polled by

Reuters

forecast a revision to 2.2%, on average.

The slide in stock prices helps send money into bonds by suggesting that the economy will slow further.

The completion of the two-year note auction restores ends dealer unwillingness to buy Treasuries so as not to drive prices higher ahead of a bidding deadline.

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