SAN FRANCISCO -- Today was nothing like yesterday, when being long stocks was like love -- an easy game to play.
After moving higher at the opening bell, major stock proxies struggled for much of the rest of the session. The negativity intensified in the final hour, with blue-chip proxies leading the downward thrust. Still, the
Nasdaq Composite Index
managed to edge further beyond 5000.
The Nasdaq rose 1.78 to 5048.64, good enough for its 16th record of 2000 but well below its intraday high of 5132.52, hit around 10:45 a.m. EST.
Blue-chip averages were whipsawed by renewed weakness in consumer giants and strength in financial services companies. The
Morgan Stanley Consumer Index
fell 1.6% while the
American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index
fell 22.8% after issuing a
profit warning and
lost 11.7% after a
Those developments refocused unwanted attention on
Procter & Gamble
, which was hit today by a shareholder lawsuit in the wake of
Tuesday's red flag. P&G fell 6.1%, helping drag the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
back into four-digit territory.
The Dow fell 81.91, or 0.8%, to 9928.82 after trading as high as 10,091.39.
was the Dow's biggest negative influence, returning 3.3% of Thursday's big advance.
was the Dow's best performer, rising 3.2%.
Brokerage stocks such as
were in big demand amid speculation a major financial institution was on the acquisition prowl.
Such rumors have been floated repeatedly and most market players dismissed them if only because it's Friday, always a big day for scuttlebutt.
Still, the talk took on added emphasis today in the wake of
, long rumored to be eyeing a big broker, fell 3% and declined to comment after the
New York Stock Exchange
inquired about "unusual market activity" in its stock.
The Nasdaq's miniscule rise was led by chip names such as
, which rose 10.6% after setting a 4-for-1 stock split. The
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
was up 3.3%.
jumped 5.2% in Big Board action after
Salomon Smith Barney
reiterated its 200 price target for the stock.
The Comp was restrained by weakness in bellwethers such as
as well as Internet stalwarts such as
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index fell 12,91, or 1%, to 1320.31 after climbing as high as 1350.16.
rose 1.1% after unveiling its "X-Box" videogame console, designed to compete with
Playstation. Sony fell 5.9%.
, whose graphics technology is employed in X-Box, rose 18.4%. But Microsoft's use of
chips for X-Box helped send
Advanced Micro Devices
climbed 59.5% after announcing Microsoft had bought a stake in the company.
The other big story of the day involved
, down 11.9%, and
U S West
, which lost 8%. Qwest said a major suitor, widely reported to be
, had pulled out of merger talks. Separately, the
Federal Communications Commission
approved the pending Qwest-U S West merger.
dumped 35.2% after its debut in Tokyo met with less demand than did its U.S. IPO on Wednesday.
Similarly, recent biotech favorite
fell 15.1% after announcing plans to jointly develop drugs with
, which slid 3.5%.
Same Old, Same Old
Among broader market averages, the
fell 2.23, or 0.4% to 603.82 while the
shed 6.62, or 0.5%, to 1395.07.
"It's kind of a pattern, Friday's haven't been too good," said Jim Benning, a trader at
. "A lot of daytraders jump in when it looks like the market is strong in the morning, but they don't want to carry anything over the weekend. There's an awful lot of that kind of speculation leading to these Friday selloffs."
But "you can't make too much of a big deal out of the Dow down 80," the trader said.
Meanwhile, market players agree the focus remains squarely on over-the-counter stocks at the expense of blue-chips.
, market analyst at
reported that of the $16 billion of inflows into U.S. equity funds for the week ended March 6, $13 billion went into aggressive growth funds.
"That overwhelming allocation is why Nasdaq pullbacks are short and sweet and the value camp is suffering," Piskorowski said. "It exacerbates the dichotomy. In one of best value markets in last 5 years,
value fund managers are being forced to sell positions they'd normally love to hold to meet redemptions. That's the underlying reason why" blue-chips continue to lag.
New York Stock Exchange
trading, 1.1 billion shares were exchanged while declining stocks led advancers 1,712 to 1,214. In
Nasdaq Stock Market
action 1.95 billion shares traded while losers led 2,315 to 1,950. New 52-week lows bested new highs 144 to 69 on the Big Board while new highs led new lows 353 to 122 in over-the-counter trading.
Among other indices, the
Dow Jones Transportation Average
rose 23.85, or 1%, to 2365.29; the
Dow Jones Utility Average
added 2.05, or 0.7%, to 277.74; and the
American Stock Exchange Composite Index
climbed 14.57, or 1.4%, to 1033.33.
For the week, the Dow fell 4.2%; the S&P 500 lost 1%; the Nasdaq Comp gained 2.7%; the Russell 2000 advanced 1%; the DOT jumped 8.1%; the Dow transportation average slid 2.8%; the Dow utility average fell 4.3%; and the Amex composite added 1.9%.
The price of the 10-year Treasury note slid 8/32 to 100 26/32, it yield rising to 6.39%.
Market data above are preliminary. For coverage of today's top stocks in the news, see the Company Report, published separately