In actuality it wasn't so bad, but in relative terms the action on Wall Street today was downright catastrophic. Sure, the

Nasdaq Composite Index

recorded its 12th new high of the year and other proxies sustained only modest declines. But market internals were lousy again, a dose of merger and split news failed to inspire, and even the mighty Nasdaq Comp could not sustain anywhere near its best levels of the session.

The bond market had an even tougher time of it. A rebound in Brazil's currency and stock market, plus more stronger-than-expected economic data at home helped send the price of the 30-year Treasury bond down 1 16/32, to 101 1/32, its yield rising to 5.18%.

The Nasdaq Comp closed up 4.31, or 0.2%, at another all-time best, 2510.20. The tech-rich index overcame an early dip as low as 2500.35 but fell far from its apex of 2533.44.

Tech leadership came from

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

, which rose 3% ahead of its earnings report tomorrow;

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

, up 6.7% after setting a 3-for-2 stock split; and

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

, which surged 7.9% on speculation of a pending split announcement.

In

New York Stock Exchange

action,

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

jumped 4.3% thanks to an upgrade by

Merrill Lynch

.

Still, it was not an all-encompassing move among the biggest tech names. The

Nasdaq 100

rose just 0.2% while the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

fell 2.1%, despite an 8.5% rise by

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

. The chipmaker was inspired by reports in

PC Week

that

Gateway

(GTW)

is considering replacing

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

chips with AMD's K6-3 model in a forthcoming line of PCs. Intel shed 2.1% while Gateway dipped 1.9%.

'My guess is everybody was punky-headed after the Super Bowl and didn't do anything,' said IJL's Doug Myers. 'There was a lot of talk about the bond market getting creamed but it really didn't affect the stock market that much.'

Internet stocks were mixed, sending

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index down 9.63, or 1.7%, to 547.89 after reaching 569.27 intraday. Index gainers included

CMG Information Services

(CMGI)

and

USWeb

(USWB)

, but weakness in

Macromedia

(MACR)

and

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

weighed most heavily on the measure.

Outside the index,

Ameritrade

(AMTD) - Get Report

surged 29.4% after announcing it will double its workforce and

E*Trade

(EGRP)

climbed 13.1% after a previously announced stock split took effect. Gains for the online players paced a rise for more traditional brokers. The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

climbed 2.1%, with

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

(DLJ)

leading the way.

However, banking counterparts such as

Bank One

(ONE) - Get Report

failed to match the upswing. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index

lost 2% and the group was a major deterrent to the

S&P 500

.

The S&P 500 failed to notch another all-time high, closing off 6.62, or 0.5%, to 1273.02 after rising as high as 1283.75 early on. Weakness in oil service, retailers and other consumer-focused names restrained the index.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

, meanwhile, closed off 13.13 at 9345.70 after rising as high as 9430.66 and falling as low as 9356.51.

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

was the biggest negative influence on the index while

General Motors

and

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

joined H-P in support of the Dow. Ma Bell rose 3.1% after announcing a joint venture with

Time Warner

(TWX)

to provide telephone service via cable television wires; Time Warner fell 0.2%.

Small-caps remained uninspiring, with the

Russell 2000

down 1.14 to 426.08.

In addition to tech and brokers, transportation names such as

FDX

(FDX) - Get Report

, which gained 4.5%, were among the best performers today. A host of airlines also gained, helping the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

continue the forward momentum demonstrated

Friday, rising 46.32, or 1.5%, to 3248.69.

In other merger news,

Rohm & Haas

(ROH)

agreed to a near $5 billion buyout of

Morton International

(MII)

, which rose 37.7%.

"Today was a grind. My guess is everybody was punky-headed after the Super Bowl and didn't do anything," said Doug Myers, vice president of equity trading at

Interstate/Johnson Lane

in Atlanta (where one guesses people were especially punky-headed). "There was a lot of talk about the bond market getting creamed but it really didn't affect the stock market that much. Today was a big nothing done. Maybe tomorrow we'll get some jazz."

In New York Stock Exchange trading, 799.5 million shares traded while declining stocks led advancers 1,638 to 1,359. In

Nasdaq Stock Market

activity, losers led 2,394 to 1,759 while 961.3 million shares traded, marking only the second session in the last 18 in which fewer than a billion shares have traded. New 52-week highs led new lows 81 to 57 on the Big Board and by 131 to 54 in over-the-counter trading.

Longtime Bull Seeing Red

In large part because of the "miserable" breadth, Tony Dwyer, chief market strategist at

Ladenburg Thalmann

, is recommending investors "pull in the horns on the equity market."

Frankly, Dwyer's stance doesn't have the same cachet as if, say,

Abby Joseph Cohen

were to do an about face. But he has been steadfastly bullish (and mainly right) since late last summer, and thus the change is noteworthy.

"As in October, when all the negatives were discounted, now all the positives are discounted," Dwyer said. "A combination of extreme valuations, lackluster breadth and parabolic stock moves have created a ripe environment for a correction."

The strategist said the Nasdaq Comp has risen an average of 20% since 1994 after setting a new high for the first time after a correction, which it did on Nov. 27, closing above 2016 to surpass its July high of around 2014. "Once it reaches its objective, it typically declines about 15% in two months," Dwyer said, citing 2500 as the objective. "My feeling is we've reached the objective, passed historical returns and it's time to correct some of the excesses that exist. You can come down 20% to 30% on some larger tech stocks and not break trend lines. It's gotten excessive to the upside."

A catalyst for the downturn could be the "fear factor" ahead of Y2K, which Dwyer expects to have a "limited impact on the economy" in actuality.

Among other indices, the

Dow Jones Utility Average

fell 6.14, or 2%, to 296.66 and the

American Stock Exchange Composite Index

fell 2.23, or 0.3%, to 712.63.

Elsewhere in North American equities, the

Toronto Stock Exchange 300

rose 35.88 to 6765.44 and the

Mexican Stock Exchange IPC Index

jumped 72.31, or 1.8%, to 4030.24.

Monday'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, AT&T rung in 2 13/16 to 93 9/16 while Time Warner let go of 3/16 to 62 5/16 on news of their joint venture to offer AT&T telephone service over Time Warner's cable television wires. AT&T will own 77.5% of the venture, Time Warner 22.5%.

TheStreet.com

took a closer look at the deal in a

story and a

Jim Seymour

column this afternoon.

Online brokers continued to see strength after, among other aforementioned positive factors, today's bullish piece on smaller online brokerage firms in

The New York Times

. Ameritrade shot up 23 5/8, or 29.4%, to an all-time high of 105; E*Trade shot up 7 1/4, or 13.1%, to an all-time high of 62 7/16;

Siebert Financial

(SIEB) - Get Report

shot up 6 3/4, or 55.1%, to an annual high of 19 1/8; and

National Discount Brokers

(NDB)

shot up 5 7/8, or 30.9%, to 24 7/8.

Charles Schwab's

(SCH)

shares failed to ignite, losing 3/8 to 69 15/16.

Advanced Micro Devices lifted 1 15/16, or 8.5%, to 24 7/8 on word Gateway will introduce PCs based on the company's forthcoming K6-3 chip. Gateway fell 1 1/2 to 75 4/5.

TSC

relayed a few bad experiences with Gateway's customer service department in a

piece this afternoon.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Aeroquip-Vickers

(ANV)

soared 20 3/4, or 58.9%, to 56 after

Eaton

(ETN) - Get Report

agreed to acquire the company for $1.7 billion. Eaton dropped 2 13/16 to 66 13/16.

America Online

(AOL)

sloughed off 4 9/16 to 171 3/16 after announcing late in the session it will buy

MovieFone

(MOFN)

in a $388 million stock deal. MovieFone was halted at 26 1/2 around 3:40 p.m. and was up at 29 1/2 in after-hours trading.

Apache

(APA) - Get Report

skidded 1 1/8, or 5.8%, to 18 1/8 after buying a portfolio of permits in the Carnarvon Basin in Western Australia from the country's

Novus Petroleum

for $55.2 million.

Hyperion Communications

(HYPT)

added 1/4 to 13 7/8 after agreeing to a $200 million pact with

Lucent

(LU)

to install high-capacity dense wave division multiplexing optical network equipment on Hyperion's fiber-optic network serving the eastern half of the U.S. Lucent slipped 2 1/16 to 110 1/2.

Morton International vaulted 9 3/4, or 37.7%, to an annual high of 35 5/8 after Rohm & Haas agreed to buy the company in a cash and stock transaction valued at $4.9 billion, including the assumption of $268 million of debt. Rohm & Haas picked up 3/4 to 31 3/4.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Aetna

(AET)

slid 3 7/8 to 86 1/4 despite posting fourth-quarter earnings of 98 cents a share, including Year 2000 costs, topping the 14-analyst estimate of 96 cents and up from the year-ago 87 cents.

Assisted Living Concepts

(ALF)

tanked 6 5/8, or 52.5%, to an annual low of 6 after saying it will restate year-end 1997 results and most of 1998's results because of problems auditors had with the way the company accounted for revenue from joint ventures used to develop new facilities. The move ended the ALF's pending acquisition by

American Retirement

(ACR)

, which grew 1 1/4, or 7.6%, to 17 11/16.

Baker Hughes

(BHI)

lifted 1/16 to 16 15/16 even after reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 14 cents a share, missing the 25-analyst target by 3 cents and falling below the year-earlier 34 cents. The company announced plans to reduce its workforce by 7.6% to about 29,800.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

cut the stock to outperform from strong buy.

Creative Technology

(CREAF)

sliced off 3 5/16, or 22.3%, to 11 5/8 after late Friday reporting second-quarter earnings of 64 cents a share, in line with the six-analyst estimate but behind the year-ago 79 cents.

Gannett

(GCI) - Get Report

lowered 1 11/16 to 64 1/8 after recording fourth-quarter earnings of 92 cents a share, 1 cent higher than the 14-analyst prediction and above the year-ago 80 cents.

Inso

(INSO)

plunged 15 1/2, or 62.3%, to an all-time low of 9 13/32 after warning it sees a fourth-quarter and full-year loss and saying it will restate figures for the first three quarters of 1998 to reverse about $7 million in revenue that had been reported previously. Analysts projected the company would earn 23 cents a share in the fourth quarter and 44 cents for the full year.

Nalco Chemical

(NLC)

declined 1 1/8 to an annual low of 26 3/8 after announcing fourth-quarter earnings of 45 cents a share, in line with the eight-analyst forecast but below the year-earlier 56 cents.

Preview Travel

(PTVL)

climbed 1 to 27 3/8 after telling a session at the

NationsBanc Montgomery Securities Technology Conference

that its fourth-quarter advertising revenue exceeded expectations. The company said it expects analysts to adjust their models to reflect the higher revenue.

TheStreet.com

is

covering the Monty conference all week.

Richardson Electronics

(RELL) - Get Report

tumbled 2 9/16, or 27.7%, to 6 3/4 after warning late Friday it sees third-quarter earnings falling "substantially" below the five-analyst forecast of 19 cents a share. In the year-ago period, the company earned 17 cents.

In other earnings news:

Offerings and stock actions

Oracle pulled in 3 11/16, or 6.7%, to an all-time high of 59 1/8 after setting a 3-for-2 stock split.

Analyst actions

Anchor Gaming

(SLOT)

lost 2 1/2 to 51 9/16 after

BT Alex. Brown

cut it to market perform from buy.

Continental Airlines

(CAIB)

brought in 2 5/16, or 6.8%, to 36 5/16 after BT Alex. Brown raised it to strong buy from market perform.

Dialogic

(DLGC)

took in 3 3/8, or 13.2%, to 29 1/8 after

Everen Securities

raised it to intermediate-term outperform from market perform.

Hewlett-Packard advanced 3 9/16 to 81 15/16 after Merrill Lynch pushed up the stock to near-term accumulate from neutral.

TSC

noted that H-P is making a habit of delighting analysts of late.

Mattel

(MAT) - Get Report

excelled 2 3/8, or 10.5%, to 25 1/16 after

Gerard Klauer Mattison

upgraded it to buy from hold.

Nokia

(NOKA)

fell 7 3/4, or 5.4%, to 136 3/8 after Morgan Stanley Dean Witter slashed it to neutral from outperform.

Northrop Grumman

(NOC) - Get Report

expanded 5 5/8, or 9.9%, to 62 5/8 after

PaineWebber

upped it to buy from neutral.

Miscellany

Cell Pathways

(CLPA)

was halted at 27 1/4 around 2:15 p.m. before announcing it expects a delay in filing its new drug application for

Prevatac

. The company said Phase III clinical trials for its drug to prevent colon cancer didn't show a "significant" response.

Medtronic

(MDT) - Get Report

added on 1 5/16 to 81 after saying minutes before the closing bell that it received approval from the

Food and Drug Administration

for its newest dual chamber defibrillator, which is 35% smaller in size than previous models.

Perfumania

(PRFM)

stumbled 4 1/16, or 37.6%, to 6 7/8 on news its CFO, Simon Falic, will resign.

Scios

(SCIO)

flew 11/16, or 6.9%, to 10 5/8 after

late Friday an advisory panel to the FDA recommended approval of its

Natrecor

drug to treat congestive heart failure.

Warner-Lambert

(WLA)

rose 1 1/8 to 73 1/2 after announcing that its chairman and CEO, Melvin Goodes, plans to retire May 1. Lodewijk J.R. de Vink, president and COO, will succeed him.