Market Update: Stocks Looking Up in Afternoon Action; Lucent Looking for Its Accountant

Stocks generally looked better, despite bad days by Lucent and Yahoo!
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The major indices have had a volatile day, but at least lately were on the upside.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average was recently near its session high, while the

Nasdaq Composite Index was hovering above the flatline.

Still, the breadth on both indices was negative and volume was on the lighter side as investors continue to appraise news from the

Florida's Supreme Court

, which said that it doesn't have a timetable on handing down a ruling over whether to accept the manual hand court.

And so, the election saga and the uncertainty both continue for another day.

Lucent

(LU)

was today's bad news bearer. The telecom equipment-maker announced that it had identified a "revenue recognition issue," which affects $125 million in revenue for its fourth quarter. This represents a 2-cent per share impact on its fourth quarter number, which was previously announced at 18 cents a share.

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom wrote more about the

issue in a separate story.

Lucent had guided estimates lower four straight times while missing earnings forecasts all over the place. This morning,

Merrill Lynch

cut its long-term rating on the company to accumulate from buy and slashed its 2001 earnings estimate to 20 cents a share from 65 cents a share. Lucent was off $3.06, or 14.9%, to $17.88, hitting a 52-week-low in the process.

Luckily, the Lucent news was self-contained, as opticals were the primary force driving the Nasdaq's slim gain.

Ciena

(CIEN) - Get Report

,

JDS Uniphase

(JDSU)

and

SDL

(SDLI)

were all making nice upside moves.

Biotechs were also bouncing today.

Prudential Securities

raised ratings on four biotechs to strong buy from accumulate, including

Gilead

(GILD) - Get Report

and

IDEC Pharmaceuticals

(IDPH)

. Gilead was lately up 7% to $69.13 and IDEC was 6.6% higher, to $162.50.

The Dow was getting the majority of help from

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

, which yesterday announced that it may split a $300 billion jet fighter contract from the Pentagon with

Lockheed Martin

(LMT) - Get Report

. Boeing was up 5.7% to $69.38.

The blue-chip index was broadly higher, with

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

,

United Technologies

and

ExxonMobil

(XOM) - Get Report

, all contributing 10 or more points to the good.

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

was countering, with nearly 20 negative points.

Meanwhile, Agilent was up 11.3%, or $5.06, to $49.69 after it reported better-than-expected earnings for its fourth quarter.

TheStreet.com

wrote about the

earnings announcement in an earlier story.

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Sector Watch

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

continued to fall, lately dropping 3.7%. Computer manufacturers weren't faring any better. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

was sliding 2.1%.

The

American Stock Exchange Airline Index

was jumping 2.7% ahead of the holiday season. This morning,

Goldman Sachs

adjusted its earnings estimates on

Southwest Airlines

(LUV) - Get Report

and

UAL

(UAL) - Get Report

. Southwest was up 6.2% ton $31.94, while UAL was hopping 1.5% to $37.63.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasuries were lately little changed on almost no news. The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note was unchanged at 100 18/32, yielding 5.675%.

In economic news, the

trade deficit

(

definition |

chart |

source

) swelled to a record $34 billion in September as import growth outpaced export growth. Imports rose 3.1% to $126 billion, while exports fell 0.7% to $92 billion. A much smaller widening had been forecast by economists polled by

Reuters

.

The rising deficit has no clear market implication, but it will probably result in a substantial downward revision to the third-quarter

gross domestic product

(

definition |

chart |

source

) growth rate, which the government will restate next Wednesday. The initial estimate of 2.7% is likely to be revised to 2%, economists at

Barclays Capital

said.

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