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Like rock 'n' roll, you can't stop the

Nasdaq Composite Index

(can't stop, you can't stop it). But the tech-laden index again lacked a dance partner; while it drove further into record territory today, blue-chip proxies faded modestly.

With the wild gyrations evident late last week having subsided but the

quarterly refunding looming ahead, the long end of the bond market stumbled, taking interest rate sensitive stocks and the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

along for the ride.

The price of the 30-year Treasury bond fell 31/32 to 97 5/32, its yield rising to 6.34%.

In response (partially), the Dow fell 58.01, or 0.5%, to 10,905.79 after spending the entire session below break-even and trading as low as 10,846.22.

Weakness in rate-sensitive components such as

General Electric


, down 3.8%, exerted the greatest negative influence on the blue-chip proxy.

Undaunted by rising bond yields or the Dow's decline (as if either has had much influence), the Comp rose 76.71, or 1.8%, to an all-time best of 4320.85, building on its record-setting close of


Among traditional tech bellwethers, the index got its biggest lift from

MCI WorldCom


, which rose 8.1% after

Salomon Smith Barney

"aggressively" reiterated its buy recommendation.






each rose more than 3%, helping the

Nasdaq 100

gain 1.5%.

Semiconductor and equipment makers were a standout within technology today after the

Semiconductor Industry Association

reported global sales rose 19% in 1999.

Applied Materials








were strong throughout while



awakened late in the day, helping the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

rise 3.9%.

But the Comp's latest record was not symptomatic of a breakaway session for tech stocks, as Internet and even momentum favorites struggled. Internet Sector

index fell 3.07, or 0.3%, to 1137.19 while New Tech 30

slid 1.89, or 0.3%, to 640.24. Unveiled Jan. 5, the TSC New Tech 30 is a market-cap-weighted index focusing on tracking the so-called hot money part of the market. A list of index components is available at

The New Tech 30 was restrained by



, which fell 3.9% after announcing plans to acquire



, which gained 7%.

Mergers were definitely a highlight of the session, as this day lived up to the "Merger Monday" moniker the financial media is so enamored of.

The biggest, of course, featured



, which rose 2.6% after finalizing -- on

friendly terms -- its once-hostile bid for



, which rose 2.7%.

American Home Products


, which walked away from Warner Lambert with "breakup" fees of over $1.8 billion, rose 5.5%. Still, the

American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index

rose just 0.5% as investors continued to prefer less staid names in the industry. The

Amex Biotech Index

soared 7.2%.

Without a big lift from drugmakers and with retailers and financials weak, the

S&P 500

fell 0.16 to 1424.21. The small-cap

Russell 2000

rose 6.87, or 1.3%, to 532.39.

"This just continues to be the same theme as last week -- tech leads and the rest of the market isn't just lagging, it's going down," surmised Jon Olesky, head of block trading at

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

. "People are concentrating their bets in a very narrow pattern. That got rolling big last week and kept going today. People get on a story, and they're ramping it."

One of the big ramping tech stories today was



, which soared 8.8%. The company announced a series of marketing and technology partnerships with a variety of companies today and CEO Carly Fiorina apparently made some bullish comments today at a meeting with investors. Still, most traders were perplexed at the extent of H-P's move.


New York Stock Exchange

trading, 917.7 million shares were exchanged while declining stocks led advancers 1,776 to 1,228. In

Nasdaq Stock Market

action 1.607 billion shares traded while gainers led 2,345 to 1,852. New 52-week lows bested new highs 140 to 79 on the Big Board while new highs led 318 to 58 in over-the-counter trading.

Start Making Sense

Although the market's most recent round of bifurcated action has some perplexed, Barry Hyman, chief market strategist at

Ehrenkrantz King Nussbaum

, said it is logical.

"The market is extremely rational," he said. "Interest rates are affecting most valuations. We're seeing companies going down to 13, 14 times earnings -- they're there for a reason. The market is saying, 'We're going to ignore these companies because they don't represent growth.'"

A variety of sectors fall into this "ignored" category, including retailers, financials and transports, Hyman said, questioning the mindset that the Russell 2000's recent gains represent a "broadening" of interest. "It's broadened only in tech and biotech," he said.

Hyman believes the

Federal Reserve

will "take some time off" after raising interest rates in March and thus sees opportunity in financials, particularly regional banks and S&Ls. But tech remains by far his favorite sector. "There's little money to be made outside of tech."

However, rationality is getting "a little stretched" when a company such as



, up 4.6% today, can be considered "a good value" because it's "only" trading at 70 times earnings when its peers are trading at 100 times, he said.

Still, "I accept the market and think investors accept it," the strategist said. "There's a fundamental change in how people define value at this point."

Among other indices, the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

fell 36.75, or 1.4%, to 2572.21; the

Dow Jones Utility Average

slid 2.39, or 0.8%, to 306.91; and the

American Stock Exchange Composite Index

rose 1.11, or 0.1%, to 884.08.

Market data above are preliminary. For coverage of today's top stocks in the news, see the Company Report, published separately