The

Nasdaq Composite Index lately clawed its way back above 3000 after tumbling earlier today.

It was lately trying to reach the flatline, but most other indices, including the

Dow Jones Industrial Average, were lodged more solidly in negative territory after another chapter in the never-ending election story unfolded. The Dow was down, and not moving much, and so was the

S&P 500. The indices initially spiked, however, about half an hour after the opening bell, when a judge in Florida ruled that its secretary of state acted within her bounds in rejecting recounted ballots after the original deadline.

With no conclusive election results yet, money continues to sit on the sidelines, which has led to modest volume and volatility in the marketplace. Even though there was a definite upward sprint in tandem with the judge's announcement, many are saying the election is just an excuse, while the real market-movers are concerns over slowing growth and lower-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings.

And though

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

was seemingly bucking the fourth-quarter-warning trend, announcing that it's on track to meet earnings targets for the current quarter and that demand remains strong, appearances were slightly deceiving in this case. Sun typically exceeds expectations, so its doing no more than meeting estimates this time around was worrisome to some close watchers of the Unix server manufacturer.

TheStreet.com

took a close look at

Sun's news. Sun's stock lately was barely higher, up 0.6%.

Elsewhere in tech, but on the

Big Board,

Nortel Networks

(NT)

was the most actively traded stock. It lately was off 4%. Yesterday, the stock fell on rumors that one or more of its customers have switched to competitors. This morning, the telecom equipment company was the focus of some cautious comments from a

Banc of America Securities

analyst.

Meanwhile, there were several Comp components having a down day. B2B software provider

Commerce One

(CMRC)

was lately down 11.9% after it denied rumors that a memo to its salesforce indicated weak sales. Instead, the company said the memo was routine and was intended to motivate its sales staff.

Also,

VeriSign

(VRSN) - Get Report

was falling on news that China said only a handful of domestic, government-supported firms could assign Chinese-language Internet addresses. The decision hurts the registration service VeriSign launched last week, as well as other foreign address registration firms that are fighting to get companies to register domain names in Chinese characters. VeriSign was lately down 5.3%.

Chipmaking giant

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

was up again after an earlier slide into the red. It said it would launch its new high-speed Pentium 4 chip in a bid to upstage rival

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

in the market for processors that run personal computers. Intel was lately 1.9% higher.

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

was the heaviest drag on the Dow, slapping 32 negative points on the index. Financials overall have had a crummy week after

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

had a negative asset quality announcement in its 10-Q.

The star today was book retailer

Barnes & Noble

(BKS) - Get Report

, lately up 17.6%. It was upgraded to buy from outperform at

Salomon Smith Barney

and by

Merrill Lynch

to buy from accumulate. Solly said the upgrade reflected solid business trends in the core book operations.

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Sector Watch

The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

was down 2%. Most of its components were down.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

(MWD)

fell 4.1%. The firm, along with First Union and Bank of America, were agents on a $1.7 billion loan to

Sunbeam

(SOC)

in March 1998. Earlier this week, debt-laden Sunbeam reported a third-quarter loss well below estimates.

Sectors that would likely benefit from a Bush administration were rallying today. The

American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index

was rising 0.3% and the

American Stock Exchange Tobacco Index

was 1% higher.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasuries are under pressure following a Florida judge's ruling in favor of Republican candidate

George W. Bush

. The judge rejected Democratic candidate

Al Gore's

request that hand recounts be included in the final vote tally, which currently favors Bush.

Treasuries are responding to the prospect of a Bush presidency, which bond market analysts say will do more than a Gore administration to erode federal budget surpluses. Federal budget surpluses have boosted the value of Treasury securities, because they have led to reduced issuance of Treasuries.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was down 9/32 at 100 10/32, lifting its yield to 5.706%.

The only economic news of the day was a touch weaker than expected.

Housing starts

(

definition |

chart |

source

) rose a scant 0.1% 1.532 million in October from 1.530 million in September. Economists polled by

Reuters

had forecast a 1.556 million rate. However building permit issuance rose more than expected, to 1.537 million from 1.518 million.

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