Nasdaq Falters, S&P Squeaks to Record as Volume Starts Drying Up

The volatile Nasdaq did manage to do its customary billion shares, but the NYSE saw a light preholiday session.
Author:
Publish date:

One of the few bits of drama in the market today was the late-session state of the market's widely followed indices and whether or not they would close again at all-time highs.

Most didn't.

A late-afternoon stumble kept many of the market's major barometers from closing at record levels, but not to fear, the losses were modest. On the upside, the

S&P 500

did manage to eke out a positive close and end up at an all-time high. The S&P 500 advanced 1.01 to 1464.47. It also hit an all-time intraday high when it peaked at 1473.10.

Meanwhile, the

Nasdaq Composite Index

fell 4.59 to 4036.87, shy of

yesterday's all-time closing high. The Comp, however, did reach an all-time intraday high when it peaked at 4090.61 shortly after the open. The Comp, after a brief recovery from a midafternoon retreat into the red, closed down on the day.

Join the discussion on

TSC

Message Boards.

Meanwhile, yesterday's Nasdaq hero

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

, was again a highlight in the market as far as intraday

movement goes. Qualcomm traded as high as 740 1/8 and as low as 638 15/16. In the end, Qualcomm fell 11 15/16 to 647. It was also most active on the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, with 16 million shares changing hands.

Meanwhile, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

gave up 31.80, or 0.3%, to 11,452.86.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index slipped 1.78, or 0.2%, to 1160.44. The DOT also hit an all-time intraday high when it hit 1192.34.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

was a standout in the DOT, rising 12 3/8 to 416 1/16.

Argus Research

today upped its 12-month price target on Yahoo! to 550 from 385.

The small-cap

Russell 2000

shed 0.42, or 0.1%, to 496.59.

TheStreet.com

Red Hots index swooned 36.75, or 7.9%, to 426.49. The 20-stock index tracks action in particularly volatile stocks and is meant to measure so-called hot money. (You can check quotes on the Red Hots index and its component stocks at

http://www.thestreet.com/redhots.)

Peter Coolidge, managing director of equity trading at

Brean Murray Foster Securities

, said early in the afternoon that there was "not much shaking today." The trader said that a lot of the larger funds "have shut down" for the year. However, he said it looked like individuals and hedge funds were still in the market and trading.

Coolidge is expecting activity to quiet down even more as the year draws to a close, but he did say there might be a flurry of activity toward the end of tomorrow's session.

Both the stock and bond markets close early tomorrow, shuttering at 1 p.m. EST.

Volume on the Nasdaq was, in the end, robust, but it was dreadful on the

New York Stock Exchange

. Still, while most major gauges closed down on the day, breadth on the Big Board was notably positive.

In NYSE trading, 557.6 million shares were exchanged while advancing stocks beat decliners 1,766 to 1,365. In Nasdaq action 1.107 billion shares traded while losers beat winners 2,193 to 2,026. New 52-week lows beat new highs 151 to 106 on the Big Board while new highs beat new lows 229 to 103 in over-the-counter trading.

Meanwhile in the Treasury market, the 30-year bond was up 7/32 to 96 1/32, putting its yield at 6.43%, in a largely uninspiring session.

Sector-wise, the oil service, paper and biotechnology sectors were notable losers. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

fell 4%, along with a slide in oil prices. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Forest & Paper Products Index

slumped 1.4%, and the

American Stock Exchange Biotechnology Index

slid 1.6%.

On the upside, tobacco stocks soared. The

American Stock Exchange Tobacco Index

surged 1.9%.

Looking ahead, Tony Dwyer, chief market strategist at

Kirlin Holdings

, said he thinks there will be a correction in the Nasdaq early in the first quarter as profits are taken in the high-flying stocks of this year and that money shifts into depressed blue-chip names.

Dwyer pointed out that portfolio managers have not wanted to sell big winners before the end of the year and that window-dressing has kept the big gainers up. But he said once they have a chance to take profits, because those stocks have had such a dramatic move, they will.

Among other indices, the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

advanced 21.46, or 0.7%, to 2963.45; the

Dow Jones Utility Average

rose 2.02, or 0.7%, to 283.62; and the

American Stock Exchange Composite Index

surged 14.26, or 1.7%, to a record 866.12.

Elsewhere in North American equities, the

Toronto Stock Exchange 300

fell 66.51, or 0.8%, to 8406.07 and the

Mexican Stock Exchange IPC Index

rose 8.09 to a record 7129.88.

Thursday'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.

)

In otherwise quiet trading, Yahoo! jumped 12 3/8 to 416 1/6 after

Argus

upped its price target to 550 from 385. While Yahoo! was busy ramping up, Qualcomm was taking a breather after its mad dash yesterday. The stock cooled its heels 11 15/16 to 647.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

CommTouch Software

(CTCH)

jumped 11 5/8, or 31%, to 49 1/8 after it said

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

had exercised warrants to purchase 707,694 CommTouch ordinary shares, representing about 4.7% of the shares outstanding. Shares of Microsoft added slipped 3/8 to 117 5/8.

For more on this

story, check out additional coverage from

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom.

Israeli cable television company

Matav-Cable Systems Media

(MATVY)

climbed 2 7/16 to 59 after it said it agreed to merge its cable TV operations with those of several other cable operators to better compete in the market.

Tomkins

(TKS)

rose 5/8 to 14 9/16 after it said it bought the private assets of

Hart & Cooley

for $320 million in cash.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Boyds Collection

(FOB)

fell 11/16, or 8.9%, to 7 1/16 after warning that it expects to post fourth-quarter pro forma earnings of 25 cents to 26 cents a share, missing the two-analyst estimate of 30 cents. The company also said it sees fiscal 1999 pro forma earnings of between $1.06 a share and $1.07, which also would miss the two-analyst estimate of $1.10.

CompUSA

(CPU)

slipped 1/2, or 8.7%, to 5 1/4 following its announcement after yesterday's close that second-quarter net sales fell 21% to $1.38 billion from $1.75 billion, while same-store sales fell 1.8% from a year ago. The company said a less promotional approach to selling computers hurt sales for the quarter ended Dec. 25, though profit margins set a new high of 16% as the company broadened its product assortment beyond personal computers. CompUSA said it plans to announce second-quarter operating results Feb. 2. For an

in-depth look at what's behind CompUSA's woes, check out a separate

TheStreet.com

story.

Offerings and stock actions

Castle Energy

(CECX)

jumped 6 3/16, or 32.9%, to 25 7/16 after it set a 3-for-1 stock split.

Analyst actions

PaineWebber

initiated coverage of

Adelphia Communications

(ADLAC)

with an attractive rating. Shares lifted 1 1/8 to 64 15/16.

Lehman Brothers

upped its price target on

Agilent

(A) - Get Report

to 90 from 67. Agilent popped 7, or 9.7%, to 78 3/4.

PaineWebber initiated coverage of

Alltel

(AT) - Get Report

with a neutral rating and a price target of 87. Alltel added 2 9/16 to 82 3/8.

Williams Capital Group

upped its price target on

Backweb Technologies

(BWEB)

to 50 from 38. Backweb bounced up 3 5/16, or 9%, to 40 1/4.

PaineWebber initiated coverage of

CenturyTel

(CTL) - Get Report

with a buy rating and set a price target of 56. Analyst Eric Strumingher also set 1999 and 2000 earnings estimates at $1.67 and $1.84. Shares of CenturyTel rose 5/8 to 46 3/8.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

raised its price target on

Computer Associates

(CA) - Get Report

to 80 from 62. Shares lifted 4 1/8, or 6.2%, to 70 3/8.

ABN Amro

said it initiated coverage of

Cordant Technologies

(CDD)

with an outperform rating. Cordant climbed 5/16 to 32 5/8.

Prudential Securities

initiated coverage of

Delco Remy

(RMY)

with an accumulate rating and set a price target of 10. Shares inched up 1/8 to 8 1/4.

SG Cowen

upped its rating on

Extreme Networks

(EXTR) - Get Report

to strong buy from buy. Extreme bounced up 8 13/16, or 12%, to 82 11/16.

PaineWebber started coverage on

Heinz

(HNZ)

with a neutral rating and a price target of 47. Heinz was unchanged at 40 1/8.

A.G. Edwards

raised its price target on

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

to 135 from 115. Shares added 15/8 to 115 1/4.

National Equipment

(NSV)

slipped 7/8, or 12.5%, to 6 1/8 after it was cut to neutral from buy by

Salomon Smith Barney

.

Credit Suisse First Boston

cut National Equipment to hold from strong buy.

PaineWebber started coverage of

Storage Technology

(STK) - Get Report

with an attractive rating and a price target of 20. Shares added 1 3/16, or 7%, to 18 1/4.

Lehman Brothers rolled out coverage of

Triton PCS

(TPCS)

with an outperform rating and a 2001 price target of 51. Triton tacked on 3 1/4, or 7.9%, to 44 13/16.

PaineWebber sliced its 2000 earnings estimate for

US Airways

(U) - Get Report

to $3.30 a share from $3.75 and said it sees revenue slightly below expectations. Shares rose 1 3/16 to 32 11/16.

Miscellany

AIG

(AIG) - Get Report

was unchanged at 108 5/16 after

The Wall Street Journal

reported it has brought a lawsuit against

Ace's

(ACL)

INA

insurance division, pushing the Ace unit to acknowledge certain pollution claims that were moved into a separate company. Shares of Ace slipped 9/16 to 16 3/16.

Separately, Ace said it has closed its deal to acquire

Capital Re

for 20.8 million ordinary shares and roughly $110.3 million in cash.

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

climbed 1/4 to 41 1/4, after it said it set a record for commercial jet delivery in 1999 with 620 jetliners. The company said the previous record was set in 1998 with delivery of 559 jetliners.

FDX's

(FDX) - Get Report

slipped 3/4 to 41 1/12, after its

Federal Express

unit said it would hike its fuel surcharge on most domestic and international services by 3% as of Feb. 1.

A federal judge put a temporary restraining order on some of

AMR's

(AMR)

American Airlines

unit maintenance employees who took part in a "work slowdown" that stalled operations. The disagreement involved pay premiums to nonmanagement workers who need to be away from their "home base" during the New Year's weekend. Shares rose 1 1/2 to 67.

Fruit of the Loom

(FTL)

fell 5/16, or 25%, to 15/16, following its announcement after yesterday's close that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company, which makes

BVD

, Fruit of the Loom and

Gitano

products, has struggled with manufacturing and inventory problems. In the first half of the year, shipping difficulties hurt sales and profits.

Mylan Laboratories

(MYL) - Get Report

fell 5/8 to 24 9/16 after it said the

Food and Drug Administration

has given its approval to a generic form of

Glaxo Wellcome's

(GLX)

drug

Imuran

, which stops rejection after kidney transplants. Shares of Glaxo gained 1 3/8 to 55 15/16.

An

Old Republic

(ORI) - Get Report

subsidiary is facing a federal lawsuit claiming that it offered some mortgage lenders rewards in exchange for their business. The suit, which asks for class-action status, alleges that

Republic Mortgage

gave pool insurance and other perks to mortgage lenders at below-market rates for their business. Shares of Old Republic rose 1/16 to 13 1/2.