Save for a brief foray above

Dow

10,000 and a failed run to the millennial level in the final hour of trading, there was little for Wall Street bulls to snort about today.

More disappointing (perhaps) than the inability of the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

to sustain a move above 10,000 was the sluggishness of blue-chips despite a decent bond-market rally. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond rose 23/32 to 96 24/32, its yield dipping to 5.47%.

Moreover, while tech stocks built on

yesterday's gains, transports failed to follow through and banking stocks stumbled.

The Dow rose as high as 10,001.79 shortly before 10 a.m., but the historical level

came and went almost before a near-breathless

Maria Bartiromo

could report its passing. The Dow spent most of the session hovering in a tight range on either side of break-even before rallying at about 3 p.m. to as high as 9984.02. The index then faltered and closed down 28.30, or 0.3%, to 9930.46.

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

and

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

were the biggest drags on the Dow while the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index

shed 2.1%. However, the

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

gained 2.9%.

Union Carbide

(UK)

, which paced the Dow's early rise after forecasting better-than-expected earnings, finished up just 1/2 to 44, off its morning high of 46.

Like Union Carbide's forecast and a $2 billion buyback announcement by

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

, the reiteration of bullish market calls by widely followed seers

Abby Joseph Cohen

, market strategist at

Goldman Sachs

, and

Ralph Acampora

, chief technical analyst at

Prudential Securities

, failed to inspire substantive buying. Still, traders weren't too chagrined.

"It's kind of disappointing it didn't stay up there but we're so close and we'll probably get it tomorrow or Thursday," said Jay Meagrow, vice president of trading at

McDonald

in Cleveland, of Dow 10,000. "Yesterday should have been the day. We only spent about a minute above it and it looked like a dose of market orders got it there."

Meagrow who predicted

March 8 the Dow would soon establish a new trading range between 9700 and 10,300 said there was "no dominant feature" of trading today. "Everything was pretty sideways," he said. "Today, everything calmed down."

The

S&P 500

also failed to extend its recent string of records, falling 0.90, or 0.1%, to 1306.36 after touching 1311.13 at its apex. The

Russell 2000

closed down 1.67, or 0.4%, to 399.17.

The

Nasdaq Composite Index

rose 7.83, or 0.3%, to 2439.27 but off its intraday high of 2450.01.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

,

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

,

Compaq

(CPQ)

and

America Online

(AOL)

led another day of gains among tech bellwethers in both over-the-counter and listed trading. The

Nasdaq 100

rose 0.6% while the

Morgan Stanley High-Tech 35

gained 1%.

Chip and equipment makers stormed higher after

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

upgraded

ASM Lithography

(ASML) - Get Report

,

Cymer

(CYMI)

,

DuPont Photomasks

(DPMI)

and

Etec Systems

(ETEC)

. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

rose 4.5% as chipmakers such as

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

and

Micron

(MU) - Get Report

rallied in concert.

Internet proxies surrendered intraday gains, however.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index rose as high as 615.67 but failed to notch a second-straight record close, closing down 0.18, or 0.03%, to 604.65.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

dipped 0.30, or 0.3%, to 109.89 after rising as high as 115.66, a level that would have established a new high for the index.

'Near-term, the sheer force of the fact we're here at 10,000 will take us up a couple hundred more points,' said Prime Charter's Scott Bleier. 'But I think we need some extended period of consolidation to work off the highly narrow nature of the market.'

Still, secondary Net names stormed higher, including

FlashNet

(FLAS)

, up 156% from its IPO price of 17. Representing the dark side of Internet volatility,

Bottomline Technologies

(EPAY) - Get Report

rose as high as 98 but closed down 25.8% at 68 1/2, while

Winfield Capital

(WCAP)

closed down 28.1% at 17 5/8 after reaching as high as 25 1/2 intraday.

"Bottom line, there continues to be really hot money going into secondary Internet stocks," said Scott Bleier, chief investment strategist at

Prime Charter

. "They're coming out of the woodwork. It's different names but they're exhibiting the same characteristics we saw late last year in other Internet names."

Speculative froth in the secondary Net plays is a "direct inverse theory of investing than money rotating into lagging 'value stocks' and big-cap defensive names, which is what took us up to 10,000," Bleier said. "Now that we hit 10,000, we continue to see much more of the same -- a narrowly focused, highly fragmented market with rather miserable market internals."

In

New York Stock Exchange

trading, 752 million shares traded while declining stocks beat advancers 1,664 to 1,299. In

Nasdaq Stock Market

activity 983.8 million shares were exchanged while losers led 2,278 to 1,703. New 52-week lows led new highs 75 to 58 on the Big Board and by 113 to 74 in over-the-counter trading.

Bleier, who forecast the Dow would hit 10,000 sometime in the first quarter back on

Dec. 14, remains optimistic about the market's long-term prospects. But recent action is "laying the seeds for something a little more bearish," he said, predicting the Dow could go as high as 10,500 near-term but will then "retest" its "breakout level" around 9600.

"This whole market since 9150 has been marked by miserable breadth," he said. "Near-term, the sheer force of the fact we're here at 10,000 will take us up a couple hundred more points. But I think we need some extended period of consolidation to work off the highly narrow nature of the market."

Among other indices, the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

fell 16.08, or 0.5%, to 3388.57; the

Dow Jones Utility Average

shed 0.42, or 0.1%, to 301.54; and the

American Stock Exchange Composite Index

fell 4.60, or 0.6%, to 716.31.

Elsewhere in North American equities, the

Toronto Stock Exchange 300

edged up 13.82 to 6619.82 and the

Mexican Stock Exchange IPC Index

soared 120.49, or 2.5%, to 4890.39.

Tuesday's Company Report

By Heather Moore
Staff Reporter

(

Earnings estimates from First Call; new highs and lows on a closing basis unless otherwise specified. Earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified.

)

As noted above, Dow component Union Carbide only managed to lift 1/2 to 44 after saying its first-quarter earnings will come in near 47 cents a share. The 10-analyst consensus called for 34 cents vs. the year-ago $1.01.

Elsewhere among the gilded 30,

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

gained 1 5/8 to an all-time high of 85 7/8 after saying the

Food and Drug Administration

approved the expanded use of its cholesterol-lowering medicine

Mevacor

. Mevacor is now indicated to reduce the risk of first heart attack, unstable angina and coronary revascularization procedures. This benefit is widely seen as a class effect among the statin drugs, of which Mevacor is nowhere near the market leader.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Bridgeport Machines

(BPTM)

climbed 3, or 60%, to 8 1/8 after privately held

High Technology Holding

agreed to up its stake in the company, offering $10.13 a share. High Tech, which now owns 10%, may buy up to 50% of the company shares.

Broughton Foods

(MILK)

lost 5 1/16, or 29.7%, to an all-time low of 12 1/2 after

Suiza Foods

(SZA)

said the

Justice Department's

antitrust division plans to file an antitrust lawsuit to block its acquisition of Broughton. Suiza Foods sank 2 13/16, or 7.3%, to 35 1/2. Apparently, the feds argued that the planned acquisition would result in higher prices for milk sold to school districts in Kentucky.

Central Parking

(CPC)

slipped 5/8 to 34 1/16 after the Justice Department approved its $585 million acquisition of

Allright Holdings

.

CyberCash

(CYCH)

shot up 1 13/16, or 12.8%, to 16 after announcing

EarthLink Network

(ELNK)

agreed to use its TotalCommerce e-commerce payment services for a new Web-based store. EarthLink rose 3 9/16, or 5.1%, to 73 9/32.

eFax

(EFAX) - Get Report

continued its climb, popping up 3 3/4, or 17.4%, to an all-time high of 25 3/8, on yesterday's news it will provide free fax-to-email service to

Xoom.com

(XMCM)

. Xoom.com, which announced a secondary offering of 4 million shares, shed 6 1/2, or 9.3%, to 63 3/4.

Rhone-Poulenc

(RP) - Get Report

grew 2 7/16, or 5.4%, to 47 5/8 on news its merger with

Hoechst

(HOE)

may be completed this year instead of the previously planned 2001. Hoechst dropped 9/16 to 45 3/8.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

800 Travel Systems

(IFLY) - Get Report

soared 2 9/16, or 50%, to 7 11/16 after posting fourth-quarter earnings of 2 cents a share, in line with the single-analyst view and rising above the year-ago loss of 3 cents.

GenCorp

(GY)

added 5/16 to 19 7/16 after reporting first-quarter earnings of 41 cents a share, beating both the three-analyst estimate of 34 cents and the year-ago 31 cents.

LaserVision Centers

(LVCI)

vaulted 4 5/16, or 14%, to an all-time high of 35 3/16 after reporting its February same-U.S.-laser revenue rose 40% from a year ago.

Maxim

(MXG)

declined 1 5/8, or 12.9%, to an annual low of 11 after last night saying it sees fourth-quarter earnings of 40 cents to 50 cents a share, including a gain from the sale of its

Image Industries

unit to a unit of

Mohawk Industries

(MHK) - Get Report

. The six-analyst estimate calls for operating earnings of 25 cents vs. the year-ago 19 cents.

MicroTouch Systems

(MTSI) - Get Report

tumbled 2 11/16, or 17.3%, to 12 7/8 after warning it will miss first-quarter earnings estimates due to lower-than-expected European gaming sales and a legal charge.

Offerings and stock actions

FlashNet Communications rocketed up 26 1/2, or 155.8%, to 43 5/8 after its 3 million-share IPO priced above range a $17 a share. The company, making its market debut through

BancBoston Robertson Stephens

, is a provider of consumer Internet access and business services.

Goldman Sachs

released a bouquet of details about its planned spring IPO. The 130-year-old investment bank said it hopes to raise $3.45 billion through the 60 million-share offering. The company, which applied to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol GS, expects the offering to be priced at $40 to $50 a share.

Go2Net

(GNET)

jumped 11 3/4, or 10.4%, to an all-time high of 126 on news billionaire

Paul Allen

will invest up to $750 million for a controlling stake in the company.

Synetic

(SNTC)

expanded 3 5/8, or 8.5%, to 46 5/8 after saying it filed for an IPO for its health-care e-commerce unit. The company also warned it expects third- and fourth-quarter profits to fall short of expectations due to litigation fees and slower-than-anticipated growth at its

Porex Technologies

unit.

Analyst actions

A sampling of semiconductor equipment makers rallied, some more than others, after Morgan Stanley Dean Witter upgraded the following to strong buy from outperform: ASM Lithography, which moved up 3 3/16, or 7.5%, to 45 9/16; Cymer, up 2 5/16, or 9.8%, to 25 15/16; DuPont Photomasks, up 1 1/2 to 40 3/4; and Etec Systems, up 4 1/8, or 9.2%, to 48 15/16.

Biomet

(BMET)

scored 1 13/16 to 41 15/16 after

Hambrecht & Quist

raised the stock to buy from hold.

Tommy Hilfiger

(TOM)

advanced 1 7/8 to 75 after

Brown Brothers Harriman

started coverage with a short-term strong buy and a long-term buy.

HMT Technology

(HMTT)

collapsed 1 5/8, or 27.4%, to an all-time low of 4 3/8 after

BT Alex. Brown

downgraded the stock to market perform from buy.

Pacific Internet

(PCNTF)

excelled 9 1/16, or 22.7%, to 49 3/16 after

Lehman Brothers

started coverage at buy.

Vignette

(VIGN)

lowered 2 1/2 to 70 after Morgan Stanley Dean Witter initiated coverage at neutral. Hambrecht & Quist began coverage at buy.

Miscellany

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

gained 1 9/16 to 36 1/4 after launching

Boeing Airplane Services

, a new business dedicated to postdelivery modification and engineering services for commercial airplanes.

Cyberian Outpost

(COOL)

, a global Internet retailer of computer hardware, software and accessories, shot up 2 13/16, or 15.2%, to 21 3/8 after unveiling its new online auction site,

OutpostAuctions.com

.

Emcee Broadcast Products

(ECIN)

blasted up 2 1/4, or 163.6%, to an annual high of 3 21/32 after announcing it will create a subsidiary to invest in building and operating wireless high-speed Internet systems in the U.S.

Hello Direct

(HELO)

vaulted 4, or 51.2%, to 12 after a

Wall Street Journal

editor told

CNBC

last night that Bernie Schaeffer, chairman of

Schaeffer's Investment Research

, touted the company.

Safeguard Scientifics

(SFE) - Get Report

climbed 11 5/16, or 23.5%, to an all-time high of 59 1/2 after CEO Warren Musser appeared on

CNBC

, saying his venture capital firm is changing its strategy to concentrate on Internet investments.