No mountains moved today. No manna fell from heaven. Nobody walked on water. Faithful investors looking for a sign about the market's near-term fate were likely frustrated by today's action.
Major proxies ended lower as weakness in transports, bellwether technology names and certain financials overcame strength in Internet names and energy stocks. A virtual stalemate among the blue-chip group was tempered by another sub-par reading in market internals.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
traveled as high as 9934.63 and as low as 9874.96 but spent much of the day vacillating in a tight range around break-even. At day's end, the blue-chip proxy was down 13.04, or 0.1%, to 9890.51.
Procter & Gamble
were the Dow's best performers while
closed down 2.28, or 0.2%, to 1297.01 after rising as high as 1303.89.
dipped 3.38, or 0.9%, to 393.20. Most troubling to some investors, the
Dow Jones Transportation Average
fell 62.80, or 1.9%, to 3275.68. Airlines led the retreat as crude prices rose again ahead of tomorrow's
American Stock Exchange Airline Index
slid 3.3% while the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index
"In my world it was a dead day. A nonevent," said the head block trader at one Wall Street concern. "Volume was much lower than what we've been doing. It was very quiet, one of the quietest I've seen in a while."
The market's trepidation is "less
Dow 10,000 and more people just leery of preannouncements," the trader said. "It really doesn't mean that much to pros or people looking to outperform because the S&P is more the benchmark. The earnings announcements are much more on people's minds. You're seeing a lot of position squaring and a lack of conviction because no one wants to get bagged."
Worries in Techland; a Technician Concerned
Technology investors remain most cautious about profits. After falling 5.1%
Friday amid speculation it will post disappointing first-quarter earnings,
fell as low as 166 5/8 then rose as high as 170 1/2 before closing off 0.9% at 167.
BancBoston Robertson Stephens
added to concerns about IBM, lowering its first-quarter earning estimate.
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
will preannounce an earnings shortfall while simultaneously reducing first-quarter earning estimates on
In reaction, Compaq fell 2% and Dell shed 6.1%. In sympathy
fell 3.3% and
With concerns about tech bellwethers paramount, the
Nasdaq Composite Index
fell 25.35, or 1.1%, to 2395.92. The
slid 1.3% and the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
Among Nasdaq bellwethers, only
produced notable gains. The former gained nearly 1% after confirming it is discussing a settlement of its antitrust trial with the
'It's a very quiet day and quiet is not going to cut it,' Everen's Greg Nie said. 'There's not a lot of momentum in either direction. I still believe 10,000 will prove to be a psychological barrier but unless the quality of tape action improves, look for some lethargic tape action to develop later this week.'
While traditional stalwarts slumbered, Internet favorites experienced some wicked volatility amid merger speculation and some real deals.
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index jumped 4.92, or 0.8%, to an all-time best of 633.51. However,
TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index
slid 0.37, or 0.3%, to 114.23.
was again a standout, rising 9% to another record high, 130.
gained 36.3% amid rumors it will receive a takeover offer from
, which shed 2.8%.
gained 28.8% after Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen said he will invest up to $750 million to take a controlling stake in the company.
rose as high as 200 but closed off 1.8% at 177 despite announcing a service pact with
. Comcast, meanwhile, fell 7.8% after announcing it will acquire
in a $60 billion stock swap. MediaOne rose 12.8%.
rose as high as 307 1/2 but closed down 15.2% at 244 3/4.
The recent resurgence of Internet (choose one: mania, madness, prudent investing) has some market pundits theorizing speculative investors are excited by the Dow's approach to 10,000, even as traditional investors are cowed.
Not so, according to Greg Nie, chief technical analyst at
in Chicago, who sees the development as part of a recent trend in which "on any given day you've had leadership -- some days financials, some days technology, some days drugs -- but no coattails on any group."
The trend reflects a belief that "bulls haven't raised their level of play," Nie said, noting breadth indicators remain "poor."
New York Stock Exchange
trading, a mere 663.1 million shares traded while declining stocks bested advancers 1,723 to 1,209. In
Nasdaq Stock Market
activity 879.5 million shares were exchanged while losers led 2,354 to 1,627. New 52-week lows led new highs 94 to 34 on the Big Board and by 97 to 57 in over-the-counter trading.
Nie views the intermediate-term trend as bullish but said the near-term outlook is less optimistic, barring a quick reversal of today's action (or lack thereof).
"I believe this is an interesting week," the technician said. "There's not a lot of economic news, we're not quite in earnings season and the
meeting is a few days away. With stocks left to their own devices either the bulls will deliver very solid tape action and we'll get through 10,000, or I wouldn't be surprised if 10,000 is a memory before the week is over."
Today's action does not a week make, but "it's a very quiet day and quiet is not going to cut it," he said. "There's not a lot of momentum in either direction. I still believe 10,000 will prove to be a psychological barrier but unless the quality of tape action improves, look for some lethargic tape action to develop later this week."
Among other indices, the
Dow Jones Utility Average
fell 0.72, or 0.2%, to 303.22 and the
American Stock Exchange Composite Index
rose 5.49, or 0.8%, to 717.36.
The price of the 30-year Treasury bond fell 4/32 to 95 12/32, its yield rising to 5.57%.
Elsewhere in North American equities, the
Toronto Stock Exchange 300
dipped 2.22 to 6596.60 and the
Mexican Stock Exchange IPC Index
plunged 69.03, or 1.4%, to 4715.30.
Monday's Company Report
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 mentioned earlier, Dell tumbled 2 7/16, or 6.1%, to 37 7/8 after Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette lowered its first-quarter revenue estimate for the PC maker to $5.35 billion from $5.5 billion. DLJ, which maintained its market-perform rating on Dell, slashed its first-quarter earnings estimate to 15 cents a share from 17 cents and its full-year view to 72 cents from 75 cents. A 30-analyst consensus calls for quarter earnings of 16 cents, vs. the year-ago 11 cents, and a 31-analyst consensus calls for 2000 earnings of 73 cents, vs. the year-ago 53 cents.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
Also as noted above, broadcast.com soared 30 7/8, or 36.3%, to 116 1/2 on a
Business Week Online
report saying Yahoo! might buy the company. Yahoo! lost 4 13/16 to 165. America Online and
were also said to be separately considering a takeover of broadcast.com. GE fell 1 5/8 to 110 3/8. America Online shot up 10 3/4, or 9%, to an all-time high of 130 after
ING Baring Furman Selz
raised its price target for the company to 180 from 100 a share. The firm also lifted its 1999 earnings estimate for AOL to 36 cents a share from 32 cents.
In sympathy with the BCST takeover speculation,
flew 14 3/16, or 42.8%, to an all-time high of 47. Elsewhere in the sector,
surged 4 11/16, or 10.3%, to an all-time high of 50 1/4 following last week's 66% rise on continued enthusiasm about its recently announced partnership with NBC.
lifted 2 1/8 to an all-time high of 83 1/8 after saying it's seriously considering a $7.86 billion bid from
LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton
for 100% of its stock. On Friday, Gucci allowed
to take 40% ownership through the issue of new Gucci shares. LVMH slipped 3/16 to 50 1/2.
MediaOne jumped 7 3/4, or 12.8%, to an all-time high of 68 1/2 after Comcast agreed to buy the company in a deal valued at $60 billion in stock and the assumption of debt. MediaOne shareholders will receive 1.1 Comcast shares for each share owned. While the agreement bars MediaOne from soliciting competing acquisition proposals, it has 45 days to accept a superior proposal, subject to payment of a $1.5 billion fee to Comcast, which sank 5 1/2, or 7.8%, to 64 3/4.
closed down 3 1/4 to 177 following an intraday high of 200 after announcing a contract to supply advertising information to Comcast.
gave up 1/8 to 30 3/8 after France's
agreed to buy the company for about $6.2 billion in cash. The combination with Vivendi's
Generale des Eaux
unit will create a water-treatment giant with $12 billion in annual sales.
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
skidded 2 1/16, or 34.4%, to an all-time low of 3 15/16 after reporting revised fourth-quarter earnings of 23 cents a share compared with 45 cents a year ago. The results were far lower than the 47 cents announced Feb. 24.
Credit Suisse First Boston
dropped the stock to hold from buy.
added 1/16 to 18 7/8 after reporting first-quarter earnings of 25 cents a share, 1 cent above the three-analyst forecast and higher than the year-ago 22 cents.
rose 1/16 to 14 11/16 after announcing first-quarter earnings of 24 cents a share, in line with the three-analyst prediction and 2 cents higher than the year-ago figure.
tanked 2 13/16, or 18.3%, to 12 9/16 after warning its first-quarter earnings will come in at 10 cents to 12 cents a share due to slowness in the semiconductor equipment market. The single-analyst outlook called for 23 cents vs. the year-ago 21 cents.
tacked on 1/16 to 3 15/16 after recording fourth-quarter earnings of 8 cents a share, missing the four-analyst outlook by 2 cents but moving a penny ahead of the year-ago figure.
advanced 1/4 to 6 5/8 after posting a fourth-quarter loss of 25 cents a share, 2 cents narrower that the four-analyst estimate but wider than the year-ago loss of 17 cents.
Bush Boake Allen
declined 2 3/8, or 8.1%, to 27 after
Warburg Dillon Read
slashed it to hold from strong buy following a first-quarter earnings warning from the company Friday. The firm also lowered its 1999 earnings view for Bush Boake Allen to $1.30 a share from $1.82 and lowered its price target for the company to 23 from 42 a share.
shed 2 1/4, or 11.8%, to 16 15/16 after Credit Suisse First Boston lowered it to hold from buy, saying Paul Hoffman, the company's vice president of sales, is leaving the company to become CEO of a start-up.
sloughed off 8 1/2, or 15%, to 48 1/8 after both
lowered the stock to neutral from accumulate. A conference call with Gilead late Friday afternoon discussing the kidney toxicity of the company's AIDS and hepatitis drug,
, exacerbated recent concerns.
excelled 3 3/8, or 21.4%, to 19 1/4 after
pushed up the stock to its recommended list from trading buy.
grew 2 1/2, or 5%, to 53 after BancBoston Robertson Stephens raised its 1999 earnings estimates for the company to 75 cents a share from 70 cents. Micron is scheduled to report second-quarter earnings Wednesday after the closing bell.
slid 1 7/8, or 10.9%, to 15 5/8 after
cut it to market perform from buy. The firm also trimmed its full-year 1999 earnings estimate for the company to $2.06 from $2.18 a share because of slow demand.
stumbled 3 3/4, or 5.3%, to 66 15/16 after
Salomon Smith Barney
downgraded it to neutral from outperform. This after Great Britain's drug regulatory agency rejected an application from
to reintroduce its diabetes drug,
, the same drug Warner-Lambert sells in the U.S. as
. This Friday, a
Food and Drug Administration
panel is slated to release its findings on Rezulin and on how many deaths are related to its use since its 1997 introduction. Glaxo rose 1/8 to 61 3/8.
skidded 1 15/16, or 17.9%, to 8 7/8 after the board named Bryan D. Langton to the newly created post of chairman.
shaved off 4 7/8, or 18.2%, to an annual low of 21 7/8 after receiving subpoenas from the
Department of Health and Human Services
for documents related to procedures performed between 1996 and now.
flew 1 to an annual high of 27 1/4 on word from
The New York Times
that the company plans to announce data-privacy technology for the Internet.
had a look at Novell's recent success in a
Senior Writer Jesse Eisinger contributed to Monday's Company Report