SAN FRANCISCO -- For a change, the

Nasdaq Composite Index

badly lagged blue-chip averages today, which rallied smartly behind financials and transports. Yet the Comp claimed what seems to be its birthright -- another all-time high -- in what may have been the most impressive performance of its recent record-spotted run.

After trading as low as 3124.77 midmorning in the wake of

Merrill Lynch's

downgrade of

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, the tech-encrusted index improved smartly for the rest of the session, closing up 23.86, or 0.7%, to 3221.15. The close is the average's 10th record in the past 11 sessions.

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Intel climbed off its intraday low of 74 1/2 but still closed down 4% to 76 3/16, leading the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

down 0.6%.

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

also weighed on the Comp, falling 4% after posting in-line profits

last night.

But those losses were offset by rising bellwethers such as

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

,

Orcale

(ORCL) - Get Report

and

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

. The

Nasdaq 100

rose 1.4% to a record 2888.68. Meanwhile,

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index established a new high of its own, up 24.77, or 3%, to 845.68.

DoubleClick

(DCLK)

rocketed 19.7% on what's becoming a sure way to spur an explosive rally in a tech stock -- an announcement of an announcement. DoubleClick,

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and two other companies plan to unveil Monday a Web solution for personalized marketing.

In addition, tech gauges were paced by the continued stellar performance of secondary names such as

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

, up 9.4%;

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

, higher by 9.7%;

Metromedia Fiber Network

(MFNX)

, up 11.4%; and

Sycamore Networks

(SCMR)

, which rose 7.8%.

"Intel downgrade be damned. That's what happening today," said Scott Bleier, chief investment strategist at

Prime Charter

. "Look at the advance/decline and you'd think the market was flat, but there continues to be very strong, extremely powerful demand to buy and trade these

tech stocks. Yes, tech is mixed, but it's all turning green except for some chip stocks."

Qualcomm, for example, added $5.2 billion in market cap today "on no news," the strategist noted. "There's a frenzy going on."

TheStreet.com

Red Hots index leapt 11.30, or 3.8%, to 309.44. The 20-stock index tracks action in particularly volatile stocks and is meant to measure so-called hot money.

The hot money also continued to chase IPOs, as evinced by

Finisar

(FNSR) - Get Report

, which rose 357% from its offering price of $19.

Intel, the biggest chipmaker of all, was the biggest drag on the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

, but the index jumped 173.71, or 1.6%, to 10,769.01. The most public face of equities was paced by blockbuster gains in

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

, up 5.8%, and

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

, higher by 4.9%.

Financials rallied overall thanks to more inflation-friendly economic data, specifically, the third-quarter productivity figures. Productivity's rise of 4.2% vs. a gain of 0.6% for unit labor costs, fueling speculation the

Federal Reserve

will not raise interest rates next week or that anything tightening will certainly be its last for the foreseeable future. That sense helped the price of the 30-year Treasury bond rise 23/32 to 101 8/32, its yield declining to 6.03%.

Financials also got a boost from

President Clinton's

signing (with oh so many pens!) the

Glass-Steagall

reform bill, which removed restrictions barring brokers, banks and insurers from entering one another's businesses.

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

, often rumored as a takeover target, gained 10.2%, while

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

(MWD)

rose 7.1%. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index

rose 4.6% while the

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

gained 8.6%.

As with the Dow, the bounding banking stocks aided the

S&P 500

, which rose 14.60, or 1.1%, to 1396.06. The S&P also got a lift from airline stocks, retailers and select cyclical names.

The

Russell 2000

gained 2.20, or 0.5%, to 449.69, its 12th rise in the past 13 sessions.

Too Good to Be True?

"In this particular market, this particular session, there's definitely an urgency of 'I gotta get mine,'" said Doug Myers, vice president of equity trading at

IJL Wachovia

in Atlanta. "There was no one pinching their noses and buying. People were just paying the plus ticks."

Asked if a sense the Fed will not raise rates next week was a factor, the trader replied affirmatively but said it was not an overriding one.

"I think that's part of it, but no one is doing anything because of the Fed," Myers said. "There's just nothing on their sheets, nothing they've seen, read, heard or smelled that has any dark cloud, so they figure, 'I better hurry up and get out and get something.'"

But this kind of action cannot last, the trader said.

"This is a little too much, too soon," he continued. "When it moves too much, too quick it sets itself up for an ugly pullback. I like nice, steady sustainable increases. This geometric growth cannot be sustained."

In

New York Stock Exchange

trading, 900.2 million shares were exchanged while advancers led declining stocks 1,656 to 1,322. In

Nasdaq Stock Market

action 1.397 billion shares traded -- the fourth-busiest day in Nasdaq history -- while gainers led 2,150 to 1,875. New 52-week lows outpaced new highs 113 to 69 on the Big Board while new highs led 188 to 79 in over-the-counter trading.

Among other indices, the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

rose 77.58, or 2.6%, to 3089.57; the

Dow Jones Utility Average

added 0.96, or 0.3%, to 300.31; and the

American Stock Exchange Composite Index

added 3.84, or 0.5%, to 823.07.

For the week, the Dow added 0.6%, the S&P added 1.9%, the Nasdaq jumped 3.8%, the Russell rose 1.6%, the DOT gained 3.8%, the Dow transports rose 2.8%, the Dow utilities fell 0.1% and the Amex Composite climbed 2%.

Elsewhere in North American equities, the

Toronto Stock Exchange 300

rose 37.74, or 0.5%, to 7526.2 and the

Mexican Stock Exchange IPC Index

slid 51.54, or 0.9%, to 6034.76. For the week, the TSE was up 3.1%, while the IPC gained 1.9%.

Friday's Company Report

By Eileen Kinsella
Staff Reporter

(

Earnings estimates from First Call/Thomson Financial; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified. New highs and lows on a closing basis unless otherwise specified.

)

Shares of Finisar flew up more than 350% on the first day of trading. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-company, which makes fiber-optic subsystems and network performance test systems was priced at $19 a share by Merrill Lynch last night. Finisar finished up 67 13/16, or 356.9%, to 86 7/8, far outshining other new issues for the day. (See the table below for more IPO results.)

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Cordant

(CDD)

climbed 5/8 to 30 9/16 after saying it offered to buy

Howmet International

(HWM)

for $17 a share, or $261 million. Howmet said an independent committee of board members will review the proposal. Shares of Howmet jumped 3 11/16, or 26.2%, to 17 3/4.

IBM gained 1/2 to 95 1/2 and Oracle rose 3 1/16 to 65 1/8 after the companies said they would unite in a project headed by IBM to standardize the Unix operating system. In a joint statement, the companies said they would collaborate on standardizing IBM's edition of Unix through Monterey/64, a project supported by IBM,

Santa Cruz Operation

(SCOC)

and Intel. Shares of Santa Cruz inched up 3/16 to 11 3/4.

Separately, IBM and DoubleClick said they will make a major joint announcement on Monday.

Net Perceptions

(NETP)

and privately held

net.Genesis

are in on the deal as well. Shares of DoubleClick soared 27 7/16, or 19.7%, to 167 1/16, while Net Perceptions surged 5 5/16, or 18.8%, to an all-time high of 33 7/8.

Lockheed Martin

(LMT) - Get Report

lost 13/16 to 19 after

The Wall Street Journal

reported it is contemplating the sale or closing of some of its core satellite and military-aircraft operations as it tries to recover its declining financial performance, according to senior executives familiar with the situation. According to the

Journal

, Lockheed's CFO said the company is "not restricting in any way" its evaluation of actions and stressed that no conclusions have been made.

RSA Security

(RSAS)

rose 2 3/16, or 5.8%, to 40 and

Red Hat

(RHAT)

lost 1 1/4 to 101 13/16 after saying Red Hat plans to license RSA technology for use in one of the Linux software packages.

Tripoint Global Communications

announced its plans to buy

Vertex Communications

(VTX)

, for roughly $118.7 million. The transaction calls for TriPoint to tender for all Vertex shares at $22 a share, beginning Nov. 18. Shares of Vertex jumped 6 1/4, or 42.3%, to 21 1/16.

Vodafone AirTouch

(VOD) - Get Report

lost 4, or 8.2%, to 47 9/16 after it said it continues to review a wide range of options in a consolidating global wireless market but said it has set no definite plans. Vodafone is expected to launch a takeover bid for Mannesmann, a company Vodafone values at $217.60 a share.

TheStreet.com/nytimes.com

joint newsroom wrote about it in a separate

story.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Aviation Sales

(AVS)

slipped 7/16 to 15 1/2 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 48 cents a share, in line with the five-analyst estimate but down from the year-ago 63 cents a share.

Dell fell 1 3/4 to 41 3/4 after it reported third-quarter earnings after yesterday's close of 18 cents a share, meeting its revised outlook, which was scaled down due to a computer components shortage. The report was in line with the 27-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 14 cents. CEO Michael Dell told

Reuters

that he sees a "healthy" fourth quarter and Y2K concerns easing, with "a group of customers buying at a more intense level, strong enough that they offset any Y2K effect."

TheStreet.com/nytimes.com

joint newsroom covered Dell's report in a

story last night.

ABN Amro

raised its rating on Dell to an outperform from a hold and

Credit Suisse First Boston

reiterated its strong buy rating, while

Bear Stearns

cut its fiscal 2001 estimate on the boxmaker to $1 from $1.05 a share and said Dell officials sent a mixed message with a cautious revenue outlook.

Healtheon

(HLTH)

dropped 5 7/16, or 12.8%, to 37 1/16 after it posted a third-quarter loss of 24 cents a share, wider than the five-analyst estimate of a 20-cent loss but narrower than the year-ago 26-cent loss. For more on Healtheon, check out

TheStreet.com/nytimes.com

joint newsroom

coverage.

Neff

(NFF)

fell 9/16 to 9 5/8 after it posted third-quarter earnings of 2 cents a share, including a charge of 4 cents. The two-analyst estimate called for earnings of 24 cents a share while year-ago earnings were 8 cents a share. Neff said it agreed to sell its construction equipment dealer

John Deere

to

Nortrax

, a new venture between

Credit Suisse First Boston

, and

Deere

(DE) - Get Report

, for about $91 million.

Zale

(ZLC)

fell 5/8 to 43 3/8 after it reported first-quarter earnings of 15 cents a share, beating the 14-analyst estimate of 12 cents and the year-ago 6-cent profit.

Offerings and stock actions

Adolph Coors

(RKY)

lost 1/4 to 51 15/16 after it set a $40 million repurchasing program for its Class-B stock.

Coca-Cola Enterprises

(CCE)

gained 1 3/8, or 6.6%, to 21 3/4 after it announced plans to resume repurchasing stock. The company said about 15 million shares remain from its current 30 million-share buyback set in 1996.

Consolidated Graphics

(CGX)

inched up 1/8 to 22 1/2 after saying it set a 2.1 million-share repurchasing program.

Quintus

(QNTS)

upped its expected price range for its 4 million-share IPO to $15 to $17 a share from $12 to $14 a share.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

is serving as the deal's lead underwriter.

Analyst actions

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette upped its rating on

Air Products & Chemicals

(APD) - Get Report

to a top pick from a market perform. Shares jumped 3 5/16, or 11.9%, to 31 1/8.

Goldman Sachs

upped its price target on

British Telecommunications

(BTY)

and reiterated its market outperformer rating. Separately, the

Communication Workers' Union

said that BT customer-service workers have voted to hold a one-day strike on Nov. 22 to protest "oppressive" working conditions. ADRs of BT fell 2 3/4 to 199 9/16.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

sliced its rating on

CKE Restaurants

(CKR)

to neutral from outperform. CKE was unchanged at 10 7/16.

Warburg Dillon Read

initiated coverage of

Conoco

(COC.A)

with a hold rating. Shares slipped 3/16 to 27 5/16.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

cut its rating on

Consolidated Natural Gas

(CNG)

to market perform from strong buy. Shares fell 1/16 to 64 9/16.

Merrill Lynch started coverage of

Covance

(CVD)

with intermediate- and long-term accumulate ratings. Covance climbed 1/16 to 11 1/4.

Merrill Lynch upgraded its long-term opinion on

General Dynamics

(GD) - Get Report

to a buy from an accumulate. General Dynamics fell 1/2 to 51 1/16 despite the news.

Merrill Lynch raised its long-term rating on

General Mills

(GIS) - Get Report

to buy from accumulate. General Mills lost 3/16 to 40 7/8.

Merrill Lynch sliced its near-term rating on Intel to accumulate from buy, citing worries over the disruption in its plans to roll out a memory product linked to

Rambus

(RMBS) - Get Report

and competitive pressure from

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

. Merrill Lynch analyst Joe Osha also cut his fiscal 2000 earnings estimate to $2.55 from $2.69 and price target to 90 from 100. Separately,

Paine Webber reiterated its buy rating on Intel and its price target of 95. Shares of Intel fell 3 3/16 to 76 3/16.

TheStreet.com/nytimes.com

joint newsroom wrote about Merrill's

moves earlier today.

DLJ sliced it rating on

McDermott International

(MDR) - Get Report

to market perform from buy. McDermott shed 4 15/16, or 36.4%, to 8 5/8.

DLJ downgraded shares of

Praxair

(PX)

to market perform from buy. Praxair lost 1 5/16 to 46.

Bear Stearns downgraded

Speedway Motorsports

(TRK) - Get Report

to a neutral from attractive. Speedway slowed down 4 1/4, or 13.3%, to 27 13/16.

Banc of America Securities

rolled out coverage of

Visx

(VISX)

with a buy rating. Visx jumped 5 5/16, or 7.8%, to 73 7/16.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown raised its rating on

Williams

(WMB) - Get Report

to a strong buy from a buy. Williams gained 1 1/16 to 35 15/16.

Miscellany

The California Attorney General and the

Federal Trade Commission

continue to have strong anti-trust issues regarding the planned $27 billion takeover of

Atlantic Richfield

(ARC) - Get Report

by

BP Amoco

(BPA)

, according to a regulatory source. According to

Reuters

, the source said the concerns surround pricing and competition. BP Amoco lost 3/16 to 59 13/16, while ARCO slipped 3/16 to 95.

Filene's Basement

(BSMTQ)

said it had devised a plan to come out of Chapter 11. The company said it plans to shut down some stores, scaling back its workforce by 900 jobs.

Ford

(F) - Get Report

said it has selected Vice Chairman Peter Pestillo as the new chairman and CEO of the company's

Visteon Automotive Systems

parts division. Ford climbed 1/8 to 53 3/8.

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

gained 1 3/8 to 135 3/8 after it said it tapped Larry Johnson as president and CEO of

GE Appliances

. In a separate story on GE,

TheStreet.com/nytimes.com

joint newsroom looks at the number of GE executives heading for the exits as the list of potential successors to Chairman Jack Welch

dwindles.

Rite Aid

(RAD) - Get Report

climbed 1/2 , or 7.8%, to 6 7/8 after spokeswomen Sarah Datz said that it would not sell off all of its 1,000 West Coast stores, but would consider the sale of several hundred financially floundering West Coast units, along with a whole or partial sale of

PCS Health Systems

.