Market Update: Stocks Close Off Highs; but Dow, Nasdaq Both End in Green - TheStreet

Looks like investors have bet their bottom dollars on a market rebound.

Despite a

revenue warning from

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

last night -- something Wall Street expected to really shake the market today -- both the

Dow Jones Industrial Average and the

Nasdaq Composite Index have rallied in afternoon trading.

Last night, Intel said its revenue for the upcoming quarter would fall short of expectations, primarily because of slowing PC demand. Intel now expects revenue to be flat for the quarter "plus or minus a couple of percentage points." The chipmaker had expected revenue to rise 4% to 8% from the third quarter. According to

First Call/Thomson Financial

, analysts had expected Intel to earn 42 cents a share. In the year-ago period, Intel recorded a profit of 35 cents per share.

In response to yesterday's pre-announcement, analysts lined up to fire away at Intel this morning:

Goldman Sachs

,

Robertson Stephens

, and

Lehman Brothers

all cut their recommendations on the stock. But that didn't stop Intel. At last look, the chipmaker was up $1.56, or 4.8%, to $33.88.

Has the market has hit bottom? Judging by this afternoon's trading activity, it sure looked that way.

Intel's warning was the latest in a string of high-profile pre-announcements, which have included the likes of PC-makers

Gateway

(GTW)

and

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

and chipmakers

Xilinx

(XLNX) - Get Report

,

Altera

(ALTR) - Get Report

and

Motorola

(MOT)

.

Most likely, Intel's news was already priced into the market. Earlier this week,

Salomon Smith Barney

semiconductor analyst Jonathan Joseph reiterated comments from his Nov. 30 note, when he said that the chipmaker's fourth quarter was "shaping up to be the worst in over a decade." Joseph restated his reduced earnings estimate, in which he lowered his earnings forecast to 39 cents from 42 cents a share.

In recent trading,

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

-- up 12.1% -- had put the market to shame. Shares of specialty chipmaker

Xilinx

(XLNX) - Get Report

, which issued its own profit warning on Monday, jumped 12.5% to $48.25.

Altera

(ALTR) - Get Report

, which pre-announced last week, gained 8.3% to $29.38. And Intel's rival

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

advanced 10.5% to $44.19.

Fiber-optics companies posted strong gains. Shares of

Nortel Networks

(NT)

gained 11.5% to $42.94;

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

increased 10.2% to $164; And

Ciena

(symbol)

climbed 19.4% to $114.13.

Further lifting the market today was November's

employment report, released this morning. The jobs data showed that nonfarm payrolls -- a measure of net new jobs created -- slowed significantly in November, hitting a 94,000 rise vs. the forecast 140,000. While other components of

the report were mixed, the payrolls number suggests an economic slowdown.

On the Dow front, technology stocks

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

each added to the blue-chip index's gains.

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Sector Watch

Slowing PC demand may be to blame for Intel's shortfall, but the computer sector got off easy today. Lately, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

had advanced 2.7%. Shares of

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

gained 4.7%, while

Gateway

(GTW)

and

Compaq

(CPQ)

increased 2% and 0.8%, in that order.

When the market does well, so do brokers and dealers. The

American Stock Exchange Securities Broker/Dealer Index

jumped 8%.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

(MWD)

got a boost today after

Merrill Lynch

upgraded the stock to accumulate from neutral.

Sliding oil prices put transports back in the green. The

American Stock Exchange Airline Index

was 5.2% higher, while the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

was hopping 3%.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index hasn't really been embraced in recent weeks, but today the sector bounced 9.2%.

Check Point Software

(CHKP) - Get Report

got the blue ribbon. Yesterday, the Israeli company received

Network Computing

magazine's Editor's Choice Award for the "integration, interoperability and breadth of security solutions, applications and hardware platforms it provides" through one of its platforms. It moved up 15.2%.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasury note and bond prices fell after the November

employment report

(

definition |

chart |

source

) showed that last month's wages and salaries rose at the fastest pace in nearly two years. That threw cold water on expectations for a near-term interest-rate cut by the Fed to stimulate economic growth, which has been slowing.

However, after the Florida Appellate Court allowed fo a further recount of votes in the state, the Treasury market turned up and ended higher on the day.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note was up 9/32 at 103 10/32, its yield at 5.317%.

The economy added fewer jobs than economists expected in November, a sign that growth continues to slow. Nonfarm payrolls grew by 94,000, compared to an average forecast among economists polled by

Reuters

for a gain of 137,000.

The unemployment rate rose to 4% from 3.9%, further confirming that demand for workers is ebbing.

But the average hourly wage rose 0.4% to $13.94 from $13.88, lifting the earnings growth rate to 4%, the fastest since January 1999. A fast rate of earnings growth has the potential to cause inflation by creating more demand for goods and services than the economy can produce. As long as the Fed sees the risk of rising inflation, it will hesitate to lower interest rates, even though growth is slowing.

At the

Chicago Board of Trade

, traders of

fed funds futures contracts downgraded the odds of a near-term interest rate cut by selling the contracts. The odds that the Fed will lower the

fed funds rate this month to 6.25% from the current 6.5% -- indicated by the price of the December fed funds futures contract -- fell to about 30% from 41%. The odds of a 25

basis-point rate cut by the end of January slipped to about 95% from 102%.

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