The markets have brightened somewhat in afternoon trading.

Off the highs it hit earlier this morning, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average was still lately enjoying a modest rally. Weighed down in the morning by losses in the semiconductor sector, the

Nasdaq Composite Index managed to pull out of the red and into the green in recent trading.

This morning,

Salomon Smith Barney

issued a negative report on the chip market and lowered

Intel's

(INTC) - Get Report

2001 earnings per share estimate by 20 cents. In recent trading, the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer had chipped 26 points from the Dow.

As a result, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

, referred to as the SOX, had recently fallen 2.7%. The semis could still see a turnaround today, as the market waits to hear earnings results from chip makers

Novellus

(NVLS)

and

Altera

(ALTR) - Get Report

. Good earnings results from SOX components late last week helped boost the measure 9.74% on Friday.

Dow winners this afternoon include:

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

, up 2.6%,

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

, 5% higher, and

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

, ahead by 4.5%.

Shares of

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

, which posts earnings on Wednesday, were lately down 6.9%.

A big day for financials,

BankAmerica

(BAC) - Get Report

,

Bank of New York

(BK) - Get Report

,

Fifth Third Bancorp

(FITB) - Get Report

and

Northern Trust

(NTRS) - Get Report

all posted earnings results today. Lately, the

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

was rising 1.3%, while the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index

was improving 0.3%.

Utilities have also seen some upside this afternoon. Lately, the

Dow Jones Utility Average

was up 1.3%. This morning, electricity producer

Unicom

(UCM)

, a component of the index, posted earnings of 93 cents a share, beating the eight-analyst estimate of 87 cents. Unicom was lately up 3.9%.

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Sector Watch

The

S&P Retail Index

, which dropped to a 52-week low last Thursday on the heels of an earnings warning from

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

, was lately ahead 2.9%. Pumping up the retailers were

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

,

Nordstrom

(JWN) - Get Report

, and

Sears

(S) - Get Report

.

Chevron's

(CHV)

announcement that it plans to purchase

Texaco

(TX) - Get Report

for about $35 billion in stock has sent oil stocks lower. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

fell 3.2%. Texaco was up 4.5%, while Chevron was down 5.6%.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasuries benefited at the end of last week as a result of the outbreak of violence in the Mideast, which gave the bond market enhanced appeal as a safe haven. Today, the overseas currency and equity markets showed signs of greater stability, and the bond market was mixed. The liquid 10-year note was lately down 1/32, to 100 3/32, yielding 5.738%.

Further indications that oil price pressures may be falling came in a statement by the Saudi oil minister who suggested that if oil prices remain above $28 per barrel,

OPEC

may increase output quotas.

With no major economic news scheduled today, it is unlikely that credit markets will show too much interest in pushing strongly in either direction. Early indications of low trading volume would support this view.

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