Updated from 4:12 p.m. EDT
Stock trading took a back seat to remembrance and reflection on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Once it got underway, the major indices took a run at their fourth straight up session, but were turned back in the final half hour.
Light volume added to the late-day volatility and the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
ended down 21 points, or 0.3%, at 8581, while the
dropped 5 points, or 0.4%, at 1316. The
dipped less than a point to 909.
The morning was filled with tributes to victims and heroes alike at the memorial ceremony in lower Manhattan, which was broadcast on national television. Trading resumed first on the
, with the
New York Stock Exchange
open pushed back until just after noon, delayed by the ceremony. Family members of those NYSE members lost in the attacks rang the exchange's closing bell.
Wednesday was quiet in the market, with little in the way of economic or corporate news. The Fed's Beige Book report on regional economies was released at noon. As expected, the report showed that the economy had slowed in recent weeks, news that markets greeted with a shrug.
During the shortened session, 839 million shares traded on the Big Board and 932 million on the Nasdaq. Despite the negative close, market internals were positive, with advancers beating decliners 17-to-14 on the Big Board and by a slight margin on the Nasdaq.
Tomorrow, however, will be more eventful, with President Bush scheduled to present his case for aggression against Iraq to the United Nations and Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan set to deliver testimony before Congress.
An early Nasdaq rally pushed the index above its 50-day moving average of 1331, drawing strength from semiconductors, despite the fact that the industry has shown little fundamental improvement. The
Philadelphia Semiconductor Index
gained 1.2%, but faltered after being up more than 3%, ensuring the Comp would close with a loss.
led the chipmakers higher, after analysts said production of the company's next-generation graphics accelerator chips may be moved up -- quite a different story than the one told by
. On Wednesday morning, reports emerged that Taiwan Semi will curtail production plans for its state-of-the-art wafers, because demand for advanced chips is weak.
Nvidia rose 4.6% to $11.09 on the news, adding to Tuesday's 14% gain, putting its week-to-date gain north of 20%. Meanwhile, Taiwan Semi slid 3.9% to $8.15.
There was little news coming from the industrials, aside from news that
finance chief David FitzPatrick will leave the company to become chief financial officer of
, the beleaguered conglomerate in the middle of a restructuring. UTX continued to rise, adding 1.8% to $62.32, after gaining 4.3% on Tuesday, when it reaffirmed earnings per share and cash flow targets for 2002.
Within the Dow, more than have of the industrials posted gains, but big losses in manufacturing and technology pushed the index lower.
dropped 2.4% to $30.14, while
was the big loser, slipping 5.6% to $28.52.
fell 1.9% to $74.20,
fell 1% to $123.9 and
dropped 2.5% to $48.58.
With mortgage rates at lows unseen in four decades, homeowners continue their brisk pace of refinancing. On Wednesday morning, the Mortgage Bankers announced that applications and refinance indices shot to record highs during the week of Sept. 6. Applications jumped 17%, while the purchase index gained 12% and the refinancing index rose 19%.
Homebuilders saw a small jump on the news, with
ending with a gain of 1.1% to $72.50 and
hitting a 52-week-high of $39.80, before ending the day down 0.7% to $38.79.
While automakers are selling cars at a brisk pace,
, an auto parts maker, warned on Wednesday that rising steel and scrap metal costs would hurt its third-quarter earnings. The company declined to give estimates, but earnings will come in below the consensus of 15 cents a share. The company dropped 28% to $7.04 on the news.
has received a $3.4 billion offer for its publishing unit, which includes educational publisher Houghton Mifflin, from a buyout group led by BNP Paribas' private equity arm. Such a deal would give the company a much-needed infusion of cash, while streamlining operations at the media titan, whose media convergence strategy failed to produce much more than red ink. Vivendi gained 2.9% to $13.76.
Overseas markets closed higher, with London's FTSE 100 gaining 0.8% to 4211, and Germany's Xetra DAX gaining 2.3% to 3575. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed up 1% to 9400, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was virtually unchanged.
But, since Sept. 11, 2001, the Dow is off more than 10%, the Nasdaq is off 22% and the S&P 500 is off 17%.
There was a minor sell-off in the Treasury markets, possibly related to heightened terrorism concerns, with the 10-year bond down 17/32 to yield 4.06%.