Today's light volume indicated that even the most confident players weren't willing to bet against the odds of a 50-basis-point hike and, instead, are opting to take a seat on the bench until after the move is made.

But those who did venture into the game moved their money into sectors that were once regarded as second-string, shunning the former all-star tech sector.

But on the lightest volume day this year on both the

Nasdaq

and the

New York Stock Exchange

, it can be difficult to gauge where this market is headed. "With today's light volume, it's tough to get a good direction on the market," said James Maguire Jr., managing director at

LaBranche

. "Any light move has an exaggerated effect."

Unlike last fall, the tech sector remains unable to shake off fears of a Fed rate hike. Even the most savvy investors are considering where their tech investments would be if the Fed successfully slows down the U.S. economy.

And after the

Labor Department's

weaker-than-expected jobless claims report on Friday, many market pundits see a 50-basis-point increase as imminent.

But the Fed wasn't the only problem today for large-cap tech. This weekend,

Barron's

published an article on

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

, casting doubt on the tech giant's ability to sustain a $470 billion market capitalization.

Cisco, which was the most active stock on the

Nasdaq

, fell 4 7/8, or 7.2%, to 62 7/8 on the news.

The Nasdaq closed down 147.5, or 3.9%, to 3669.3. "Large-cap tech are getting crushed and it's basically a Cisco reflex," said Brian Gilmartin, referring to this weekend's bearish report. But Gilmartin is still a bull on the tech sector and the company. "They continue to do what they're doing to produce revenue growth. It's easier for tech stocks to change their stripes in a new market than for a more established company in a slower growth business."

In Nasdaq trading, merger news sent

Verio

(VRIO)

jumping over 62%, after

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone

(NTT)

said it would purchase the remaining 90% interest in the Web manger for $5.5 billion.

But investors punished

Qlogic

(QLGC)

for its announced acquisition of

Ancor Communications

(ANCR)

. Qlogic slipped more than 21%.

All over the tech front, stocks were being taken down.

The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

stumbled 59.3, or 5.3%, to 1045.8, with

Rambus

(RMBS) - Get Report

and

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

both dragging.

Elsewhere in tech,

TheStreet.com Internet index

was bludgeoned 33.45, or 3.73%, to 864.31, with

Inktomi

(INKT)

the reddest of the red, off 12 5/16, or 8.6%, to 131.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was able finish the session up 25.8, 0.24%, to 10,603.6, despite a 4.6% decline from

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

.

But much to investors' surprise, financials, which usually underperform with the anticipation of a Fed rate hike, were the Dow's big winner today.

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

and

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

contributed almost 48 points to the Dow's climb.

The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

lifted 4.56, or 1%, to 462.55.

An upgrade on

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

from

Lehman Brothers

gave the

American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index

all it needed to bounced 10.0, or 2.6%, to 391.9.

Elsewhere on the Big Board, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Services index

advanced to hit an intraday 52-week high of 124.37. The index came down off its highs to close at 122.69.

But

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

was still trying to recover after issuing a fiscal 2000 earnings and revenue warnings last week.

The long distance carriers slipped to a 52-week low, closing down 1 1/2, or 3.8%, to 37 1/8. "The voice revenues are terrible," said Gilmartin. "The declines are so sharp that they're overall revenue growth is beginning to slow. This is particular to long distance. Local telephony isn't seeing the same pressure."

The telecom sector was signaling losses, the

Nasdaq Telecom Index

fell 27.0, or 3.08%, to 849.2.

Elsewhere on the Big Board, the

Dow Jones Transportation Index

gained 59.76, or 2.08%, to 2935.87 and the

American Stock Exchange Airline Index

popped 3.1%, as investors looked for buying opportunities.

The broad S&P 500 fell 8.46, or 0.59%, to 1424.17, while the small cap Russell 2000 was off 12.76, or 2.49%, to 500.08.

Market Internals

Breadth was negative on unusually light volume.

New York Stock Exchange:

1,221 advancers, 1,717 decliners, 786 million shares. 69 new 52-week highs, 61 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market:

1,423 advancers, 2,596 decliners, 1.123 billion shares. 34 new highs, 72 new lows.