Heavily larded with gains from what's become a month-long rally, the market's major benchmarks were tottering around break-even at midsession.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 45 to 10,991, while the
was off 4 to 1421. The
Nasdaq Composite Index
, shaking off its morning torpor, had moved 13 higher to 3360, in record territory.
Small-caps and Net shares were mixed. The
was down half a point to 462, and
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index had risen half a point to 956.
Market observers were generally pleased.
"We have a very positive focus at this point," said Jeffrey Warantz, equity strategist at
Salomon Smith Barney
. "The recent rate hike from the
is basically the last one we're going to have for the foreseeable future. That having been done, combined with some of the earnings numbers coming in, we're looking at clear sailing going out into the end of the year."
That perspective reflects the tenor right now on Wall Street, where much of the caution that pervaded the market back just over a month ago has dissipated. The
Chicago Board Options Exchange Market Volatility Index
, which quantifies the level of fear in the options market, has been dropping steadily since Oct. 15, when it closed at 31.48. The VIX was lately up 0.16 to 20.26, its lowest level since the middle of July. That, not coincidentally, was just before the market's sharp summer selloff.
"It's complacent," said Peter Green, director of technical research at
. "The market was due for a little bit of a pause, based on the Nasdaq Composite's mammoth move and the fact that some stocks in the technology sector had put in their first sell signals."
, 1999's Momentum King, which has been frightening traders with the dizzying intraday swings it's been making in both directions since the stock hit an intraday high of 406 1/8 back on Monday. Qualcomm was lately trading up 6 3/16 to 362, having bounced up from an early low of 349. (For a look at the excessive weighting of Qualcomm and others in the
, check out
feature from yesterday.)
To Green, that volatility "suggests that we're seeing some distribution before it can go higher again," said Green. "Money has been going into stocks like
, which haven't performed well in the S&P 500. That means money is being rotated, which is helpful."
Today, Compaq was up 7.2%, while IBM had picked up 5%.
"The overall picture is bullish," said Greg Nie, chief technical analyst at
First Union Securities
in Chicago. "But two things stand out: first, there's the extended condition of the Nasdaq Composite, which has moved 27% above its 200-day moving average. That's only the fourth time in history that it's gotten to that level. Also, the five-day trend in the Arms index has gotten significantly overbought."
The Arms index, otherwise known as trin, measures the ratio the volume of declining stocks to the volume of advancing stocks.
In sector news, oil and oil service stocks were mixed despite another sharp upward pop in crude prices. The
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index
was up 0.5%, while the
American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index
was off about 1%. December crude futures were up 65 cents to $26.45.
Transports were feeling the pinch from the spurt in oil. The
Dow Jones Transportation Average
was shedding 1.5%, and the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Airline Index
was down 1.3%.
With no major economic news to react to, the bond market was flat. The 30-year Treasury was unchanged at 99 14/32, leaving the yield at 6.17%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's early
Breadth was negative, while volume was strong amid the double-expiration of stock and stock index options.
New York Stock Exchange:
1,052 advancers, 1,834 decliners, 532 million shares. 54 new 52-week highs, 115 new lows.
Nasdaq Stock Market:
1,801 advancers, 1,985 decliners, 866 million shares. 174 new highs, 50 new lows.
Friday's Midday Watchlist
fell 1 1/4 to 44 13/16 after it said it will raise $37.2 billion in the syndicated loan market to fund its sweetened $128.5 billion offer for
, making for the largest hostile takeover bid in history. According to bankers, the loan would set a record as the biggest ever, topping
$30 billion loan in April.
Separately, according to
, Vodafone CEO Chris Gent said during a news conference that the company has contacted the
regarding its bid for Mannesmann and hopes to receive the EU's stamp of approval after the discussions.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
fell 2 to 65 1/2 after it announced plans to buy
, in a deal valued at roughly $90 million. Connecting climbed 17/32 to 4 25/32.
In a $6 billion deal,
, a unit of
, extended its pact for broadcast rights to the
National Collegiate Athletic Association's
Division I men's college basketball tournament and other selected championship events. The extended deal will begin in 2003 after the conclusion of its existing eight-year pact with the NCAA and run until 2014. CBS Sports has been the exclusive broadcaster of the men's basketball championship since 1982. The deal between CBS and the NCAA, which CBS called "the most comprehensive sports agreement in history," provides CBS with the television rights, including over-the-air broadcasting, cable television, satellite, digital and home video. CBS also obtains the rights for all content relating to these events on the Internet. CBS was shedding 3/4 to 54 1/4, but
, publisher of the
Web site, was up 5 3/16, or 14.7%, to 45 3/8.
slipped 1/8 to 69 11/16 after it said it has inked a deal to sell its financial share services division to
. GM said the sale would involve 400 salaried employees at the company.
slipped 1/16 to 17 after saying it would supply working capital for
Harland & Wolff Shipbuilding
, enabling the Ireland-based shipyard to finish two ultra-deepwater drillships being built for Global Marine. According to Global Marine, the funding, which calls for two credit letters for a total of $40 million and an advanced $93 million above its $315 million contract price, is not expected to dent its future earnings, noting that the agreement would tack on no more than 11% to the forecast $660 million cost for the drillships.
inched up 3/16 to 49 1/16 and
added 1/16 to 25 3/4 after the companies said they forged an agreement for Pitney Bowes to sell its mortgage servicing division to ABN Amro. According to Pitney Bowes, terms of the deal will not be released until it is completed later this year or in early 2000.
joint newsroom covered the news in a separate
rose 7/16 to17 3/16 after saying it is selling its 64% interest in
to Paul Allen's
for $204.8 million. Allen is a co-founder of
. For more on Vulcan's latest move, check out the
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
Earnings estimates from First Call/Thomson Financial; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified.
climbed 1/4 to 39 after posting fourth-quarter earnings of 55 cents a share, beating the six-analyst estimate by a penny and up from the year-ago 48 cents.
shed 5 7/16, or 9.7%, to 50 1/2 after it issued a downward revision for sales and revenue for the fourth quarter. Caterpillar expects sales, revenue and profit to be slightly above the third quarter. The company earned 61 cents a share in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter of 1998, it earned 83 cents a share. Analysts are calling for Caterpillar to earn 97 cents in the fourth quarter.
, fell 2 13/16, or 11.7%, to 21 3/15. In a presentation before its earnings release yesterday, Newbridge executives informed employees that the company is open to takeover offers, according to a source close to the firm. The company reviewed its plans for a 10% workforce reduction, which includes slicing 720 jobs and said it has not dismissed the option of a possible sale, although it has no current suitors. Regarding the company's earnings, Newbridge posted earnings of 8 cents a share, missing the 10-analyst estimate by a penny and down from the year-ago 18-cent profit.
joint newsroom covered the Newbridge news in a
story last night.
Pepsi Bottling Group
climbed 1/2 to 16 13/16 after saying its fourth-quarter earnings were better than expected and it is on track to meet its 2000 targets. The 14-analyst estimate forecasts Pepsi Bottling to post a fourth-quarter loss of 23 cents a share, while a 15-analyst estimate sees it reporting fiscal 2000 earnings of 88 cents a share.
Offerings and stock actions
was soaring 23 1/8, or 24.8%, to 116 1/2 after it set a 2-for-1 stock split.
jumped 5 3/8 to 165 3/8 after it it set a 2-for-1 stock split.
fell 1 1/16 to 27 5/16 after it said it started a self-tender offer to buy back up to 1.2 million shares of its common stock at $28 a share.
First Midwest Bancorp
added 1/8 to 43 15/16 after it set a 3-for-2 stock split.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
2.75 million-share secondary offering at $32 a share. ImClone closed yesterday at 34 1/2.
slipped 1/16 to 5 3/4 after it said it would buy back up 1 million of it shares.
, the country's second-largest
bottler, said it set a 15 million-share repurchasing program. Shares climbed 1/16 to 14
Warburg Dillon Read
initiated coverage of
with a buy rating and a price target of 88. BMC gained 4 1/2, or 6.5%, to 74 5/16.
Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown
initiated coverage of
with a strong buy rating. Braun rose 4 7/16, or 14.3%, to 35 3/8.
rolled out coverage of
with a neutral rating. Ciber lost 9/16 to 23 3/8.
Warburg initiated coverage of
with buy ratings.Computer Associates climbed 3 1/16 to 64 15/16, while Legato lost 1 3/16 to 74 3/4.
Warburg initiated coverage of
with buy ratings. C-Cor rose 1/16 to 51 1/8 while Westell gained 2 11/16, or 32.1%, to 11 1/8.
raise its price objective on
to 185 from 150. General Electric shares were losing 1 3/8 to 138.
Goldman Sachs sliced its rating on
to market performer from market outperform. Keravision shares were sliding 11/16, or 6.1%, to 10 1/2.
Goldman Sachs raised its rating on
to its recommend list from market outperformer. Shares of Medquist were hopping 2 5/16, or 9.3%, to 27 1/4.
Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown downgraded shares of
to buy from strong buy. Shares of Papa John's were adding 1 9/16 to 35 1/4.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
initiated coverage of
with a strong but rating and a price target of 60. Shares of Patterson Dental popped 2 1/2, or 5.8%, to 45 3/16.
First Boston analyst Wendell Laidley upgraded shares of
to strong buy from buy.
raised its intermediate-term rating on the stock to buy from accumulate. Portal Software shares were jumping 4 1/8 to 97.
was flying 4 5/16, or 6.1%, to 74 1/2 on news that
Banc of America Securities
upped its price target to 105 from 75, saying the company should reveal an acquisition next week.
Morgan Stanley upped its rating on
to outperform from strong buy. Triad Hospitals shares were edging up 3/4, or 6 .3%, to 12 5/8.
Goldman Sachs initiated coverage of
United Parcel Service
as a market performer. UPS was sliding 1 9/16 to 64 5/8.
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
upped its 18-month price target on
to 200 from 100. Veritas shares were leaping 7 7/16, or 5.3%, to 145 1/2.
Warburg rolled out coverage of
with a buy rating and set a price target of 35 on the stock. Watchguard was climbing 7/8 to 25 3/4.
was advancing 7/16, or 6.3%, to 7 1/4 after it announced after yesterday's close that the
Securities and Exchange Commission
is launching a formal probe into the financially stressed drugstore chain, while revealing that its former auditors,
, resigned saying they could no longer depend on Rite Aid management's representations.
Rite Aid said it has filed a report of unscheduled material events with the SEC called a Form 8-K, which explains the reasons behind KPMG's resignation. On Monday, Rite Aid said that KPMG was expected to examine its previous statements relating to its restated earnings, however KPMG backed out, saying it was unavailable. Earlier this month, Rite Aid cautioned investors to discount previously stated profit and cash flow reports and it has revised its earlier results.
For more on
Rite Aid's stock troubles, check out
joint newsroom's coverage.
climbed 9/16 to 32 9/16 after saying it agreed to end a pay disparity affecting women and minorities and would pay a minimum of $4.5 million in back pay and salary adjustments. The company said the decision would resolve claims of pay disparities at various facilities.
and government lawyers convened briefly with Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, the first such meeting since he declared that the company operated as a monopoly,
The Wall Street Journal
reported. Shares of Microsoft were adding 3/8 to 85 5/16.
Investors are scurrying for the few wireless companies they think are takeover candidates for the big telecommunications companies, the Heard on the Street column in the
reports. Listed as among the most likely acquisition cell-phone targets in the column:
and smaller companies such as
. Shares of VoiceStream were gaining 1 13/16 to 93 13/16, while shares of Powertel were climbing 1/16 to 86 13/16.Nextel was losing 3/16 to 96 3/16, while Rural Cellular was plummeting 4 5/16, or 5.2%, to 78 3/4.