S&P 500 on Pace for Record as Stocks Firm

Tech stocks remain under pressure, but the S&P and the Dow are solidly higher on industrial strength.
Publish date:

After ruling the market for most of the morning, weakness surrendered to firmness as stocks shook off some squishiness and turned positive as the

S&P 500

was again in record territory.

The S&P 500 was up 10 to 1236, getting little help from the high-tech side but pushed up by such stocks as


(T) - Get Report


General Electric

(GE) - Get Report


Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report



Nasdaq Composite Index

was down 3 to 2177. The Comp closed at a record high yesterday at 2180.30, thanks in large part to cyberspace stocks.

Elsewhere in the market, the blue-chip

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 64 to 9291. Powering the Dow was

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

, up 2 9/16 to 104 1/2. The small-cap

Russell 2000

was up 1 to 435, finally closing in on its Dec. 31, 1997, close of 437.02.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was lately down 15 to 409. Yesterday, the index swelled 4.7% on bullish news on the e-commerce front. Taking a significant breather today were Net notables



, down 7 1/16 to 267 1/8;


(AMZN) - Get Report

, down 19 to 332 1/2; and

America Online


, the

New York Stock Exchange's

most active issue, down 5 1/4 to 152 on 12.1 million shares.

Major tech gauges were all lower. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was off 1.2%, the

Nasdaq 100

was down 0.4%, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

drooped 1% and the

Morgan Stanley High-Tech 35

was down 0.6%.

Meanwhile, more bad news from the oil patch hammered oil-service stocks, a sector which seems to demand the question: How much more punishment can they take? The sector got lousy news yesterday after the close via


(HAL) - Get Report

. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

was lately down 3.4%.

Tax-loss selling and window dressing will continue to dominate action for the rest of the shortened trading week, said Ricky Harrington, senior vice president and technical analyst at

Interstate/Johnson Lane


Jay Suskind, head of institutional equity trading at

Ryan Beck

, noted tax-loss selling as a highlight of activity this morning. People are also positioning themselves hoping for some January effect gains in small and midcap stocks, Suskind said. But he pointed out that overall, "it's just quiet."

Harrington said volume should pick up a little bit today compared to yesterday.

Looking ahead, Harrington said early January is a real question mark for the market. With the dawn of 1999 in sight, portfolio managers won't have a reason to dress up portfolios and the tax-selling season will be over, he said. Harrington noted there could be a rally in secondary stocks due to those factors.

Of course, there are negatives, too.

"The market's overbought," Harrington said. He said sentiment and technical indicators are negative for the market right now. He cited a real market divergence in the last few weeks and poor market breadth -- "so few stocks have participated in this rally" -- as negatives for the market.

Meanwhile, rolling into 1999, market participants will have their eyes on the euro, earnings and developments in the impeachment process in Washington along with other factors, Harrington said. He noted that none of those factors alone will dominate the scene.

Sector-wise, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index

was lately up 4.4%. Financials came off their worst levels but remained mixed. The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

was down 0.5%, while the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index

was up 0.1%.

Market breadth was divided. On the NYSE, advancers were beating decliners 1,596 to 1,261 on 307 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, losers were beating winners 2,021 to 1,833 on 502 million shares.

On the NYSE, 98 issues had set new 52-week highs while 53 had touched new lows. On the Nasdaq, 82 issues had set new highs while new lows totaled 88.

Among other market indices, the

Dow Jones Utility Average

was up 0.5%, the

Amex Composite Index

was up 0.6% and the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

was up 0.7%.

On the Nasdaq, most active was

ValueVision International


, with 21 million shares changing hands. It was up 79.8%.

Meanwhile in the Treasury market, the 30-year bond was lately down 2/32 to 101 13/32, yielding 5.16%.

Tuesday's Midday Movers


Aaron L. Task
Senior Writer

In what looks like a new level of speculation in the Internet sphere,


(GIII) - Get Report

was up 6 5/8, or 331.2%, to 8 5/8. There has been no known news development with the company, which is rising, apparently, on the anticipation it will follow the lead set yesterday by

Active Apparel Group


and announce the launch of online offerings. Proving yesterday's rise was no fluke (?) Active Apparel was up a further 7 9/16, or 65.8%, to 19 3/8. Another of yesterday's big e-commerce movers,



, was higher by 4 11/16, or 13.2%, to 40 1/8.

Earnings Movers

Adac Laboratories


was down 8 5/8, or 31.8%, to 18 9/16 after announcing it will restate financial results for fiscal years 1996, 1997 and 1998 amid an extensive ongoing review of accounting principles by the company and


. Adac said the adjustments will have a material adverse impact on its fiscal 1996 and 1997 financial results.

Halliburton was off 3, or 9.1%, to 29 15/16 after announcing last night it plans to take a fourth-quarter after-tax charge of $24 million, or 5 cents a share, to cover 2,750 additional job cuts in its energy services group. Halliburton expects to report net fourth-quarter earnings of 14 cents to 16 cents a share, including the charge and costs related to project losses. The 22-analyst First Call estimate calls for operating earnings of 36 cents a share vs. the year-ago 58 cents. Other names in the oft-battered oil service sector were lower in sympathy, including

Smith International


, down 5/16 to 23 5/16, and


(SLB) - Get Report

, lower by 1 7/8 to 45 1/2.

Halter Marine

(HLX) - Get Report

was down 7/8, or 15.6%, to 4 3/4 after saying it expects to only be "marginally profitable" in its third quarter because of construction cost overruns on six drill barges. The seven-analyst consensus called for profits of 26 cents per share.

National Discount Brokers


was up 12, or 85.7%, to 26 after reporting second-quarter profits of 42 cents per share, up from a profit of 16 cents a year ago. No estimates were available. Other online brokers rose in concert, notably



, up 4, or 7.1%, to 60 1/2; and


(AMTD) - Get Report

, lately up 2 9/16, or 7.7%, to 35 13/16.

Network Equipment Technologies


was down 2 1/16, or 15.6%, to 11 3/16 after forecasting its fiscal third-quarter earnings would not meet the six-analyst consensus forecast of 20 cents a share.

In other news:

Barnes & Noble

(BKS) - Get Report

was up 4 9/16, or 11.1%, to 44 5/8 after

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

upped its price target on the bookseller.

Cost Plus


was down 7 9/16, or 20.9%, to 28 11/16 following some negative comments by

Piper Jaffray




was down 8 7/16, or 6.2%, to 128 and



was off 5 1/16, or 8.6%, to 53 1/2 on word


(INTC) - Get Report

is planning to sell portions of its holdings in each of the companies, according to

Securities and Exchange Commission



(SANM) - Get Report

was higher by 3, or 5.1%, to 62 on word it will be added to the Nasdaq 100 index tomorrow, replacing

Allied Waste Industries


. Allied Waste was unchanged at 21 7/16.

Sterling Commerce

(SE) - Get Report

was higher by 2 1/8, or 5.1%, to 43 9/16 after being named one of

J.P. Morgan's

top picks for 1999.

ValueVision International was up 4 15/16, or 79.8%, to 11 3/16 after announcing December sales from its television home shopping network rose 70% over the same period a year ago.