It's certainly not all work and no play on Wall Street, as investors gear up for a three-day holiday. Despite a flow of first-quarter earnings that are due out today, most indices are calming after a week of stormy trading, giving stocks a breather from recent volatility.
Nasdaq Composite Index
was an exception, though, having quietly eroded to a loss of 95 1/2, or 2.6%, to 3611. Tech giant
, which is also included in the Dow, continued to get punished for its weak first-quarter revenue report.
Most insiders were confident that it would be a quiet day compared with the market's recent ups and downs, but today's trading lull is considered to be nothing more than a respite, as traders gear up for what could be a bumpy ride next week.
"Traders will probably be evening out positions and stepping to the sidelines with the options expiration," said Harry Laubscher, market analyst at
. "But we're a little bit disappointed because we expected to have a true selling climax earlier this week and we didn't get it, so we're waiting for further negative next week."
But with better than expected first-quarter earnings, some savvy investors like Brian Gilmartin, portfolio manager at
Trinity Asset Management
, see stocks poised for a bounce. "As much as 80% of companies have beat earnings expectations," he said, referring to a report from
First Call/Thomson Financial
. "Assuming that there are no bad economic data, the second quarter will be a good one."
With that said, even an optimist like Gilmartin is proceeding with caution. "Unit labor costs, due out next week, might be a tough number," he said. "I might shed a little of my portfolio before the announcement."
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was showing strength, up 114, or 1.1%, to 10,789. The index was getting a positive jolt from
after it posted better than expected first-quarter earnings this morning. Auto component
was also a driving force behind the Dow on news related to its exchange offer for
Cyclicals across the board were faring better today. The
Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index
was bouncing 1.4%.
was up 4 11/16, or 7.9%, to 63 3/4, after delivering first-quarter earnings that beat the Street by 4 cents a share.
But not all stocks are rewarded for reporting better-than-expected earnings. "Earnings reports sometime result in people selling on the news, said Laubscher, referring to
decline last week after reporting solid profits.
Sometimes analysts and portfolio mangers feel that the good news is out and they're not going to see anymore for three months," said Gilmartin. "Especially for tech. They see the numbers and use it as an exit."
Nasdaq Stock Market
trading, onetime hot biotechs
were dragging after releasing their earnings reports. Affymetrix posted a loss than was narrower than expectations, while Idec's profit was in line with the consensus.
was falling 4 9/16, or 28.3%, to 11 7/16 after the Nasdaq Stock Market told the software maker it might be delisted. Legato has failed to file its 1999 annual report.
Elsewhere in tech, the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
was down 1.5%.
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index was sinking 22, or 2.7%, to 785. During yesterday's trading session, investors returned to Web stocks such as
and other tech issues that posted solid earnings and revenue. The issues had been shunned for big-cap tech names in recent weeks after being deemed speculative investments.
And with today's decline in small-caps and Web stocks proof positive, most investors are hesitant to test their risk threshold. "I'll pay 200 times earnings for
, but I won't do it for a company with a $500 million market cap," said Gilmartin. "There's just a lot more information on large-cap."
Lately, the broad
was off 2 to 1425, while the small-cap
was sliding 7, or 1.5%, to 479.
Breadth was mixed on moderately light volume.
New York Stock Exchange:
1,411 advancers, 1,310 decliners, 564 million shares. 17 new 52-week highs, 28 new lows.
Nasdaq Stock Market:
1,696 advancers, 2,138 decliners, 900 million shares. 14 new highs, 59 new lows.
For a look at stocks in the midsession news, see Midday Stocks to Watch, published separately.