Equity players, exhausted and wobbly after three previous sessions of stress and strain, pushed the major indices up a tough slope this morning but couldn't dig in their pitons. They tumbled down the other side of Mount Rally in the afternoon.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
, down as much as 99.59 in the first few trading minutes and up as much as 36.34 just after noon EST, dropped steadily through the day's last four hours and cracked through the 7400 support level. The blue-chips closed down 125.00, or 1.7%, at 7381.67, with
leading the losers. Only
managed to rise, with
Other major indices went the same way, finishing at or near their intraday lows. The broad
lost 15.48, or 1.7%, to 903.68, the tech-bewitched-bothered-and-bewildered
Nasdaq Composite Index
shed 32.34, or 2%, to 1570.41 and the small-cap
slid 6.21, or 1.4%, to 428.66. Much equity money fled to fixed-income, with the bellwether 30-year Treasury bond bouncing 23/32 to 103 in price as its yield eased to 6.15%.
"I would say that the market felt like it lost some buying power late in the afternoon," said Jon Olesky, head of block trading at
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
. "I don't want to put this under a microscope, but it may be that people got too aggressive spending cash on Tuesday. Yesterday was really a win because people digested Tuesday's move without giving much of it back."
Olesky said he was particularly disturbed by today's anemic performance among big multinationals. "Names that came back with real punch
on Tuesday today were surprisingly weak," he said. "By this afternoon you had no trouble moving
down -- and moving them sharply." Dow component General Motors
declined 2 to 66. Ford, which announced a 1.1 million-vehicle safety recall, downshifted 1 3/4 to 43 7/8.
Fears of what tomorrow might hold played a part in the swift late-day slide, Olesky said, as investors rushed to sell ahead of others rushing to sell. "By 3 o'clock, when the market was setting up to be down on the day and down sharply, you had investors saying, 'If the market closes on its lows for the day, what does that do for Hong Kong and Tokyo?' " he said. He expects things to get "sloppy" overnight on the already-battered Asian bourses, in turn pressuring U.S. equities as the domino effect cascades once more around the globe.
Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at
, remarked around 1 p.m. EST that he hoped today would match yesterday for intraday volatility and end-of-day indecisiveness. "Markets that may have intraday large swings but are relatively range-bound or trendless over time would be helpful," he said. "We've just got to get farther and farther away from Southeast Asia and refocus on earnings and refocus on the underlying economy in the U.S."
Furthering the transaction-fees bonanza this week has been for brokerages, volume remained robust today as breadth soured. On the
New York Stock Exchange
, 2,159 decliners stomped 784 advancers on 712.2 million shares. That was the Big Board's third-highest volume ever, after Tuesday's 1.2 billion shares and yesterday's 777.7 million. New NYSE lows topped new highs by 37 to 28. Nasdaq decliners swatted advancers by 3,062 to 1,528 on 764.9 million shares. New lows outpaced new highs by 92 to 64.
Thursday's market action
(earnings estimates from
soared 12 5/16, or 45.5%, to 39 3/8 after
offered $50 per share in stock for the company -- if ACC calls off its planned $46 million stock acquisition of
. If ACC and US WATS do merge, the Tel-Save offer falls to $40 per share. ACC said it would review the Tel-Save entreaty. Tel-Save dropped 1 7/16 to 22 1/2 and US WATS gave up 3/32 to 1 25/32.
was trashed 5 3/4, or 19.8%, to 23 1/4 after its CEO and its CFO separately late
yesterday announced their resignations. Chairman and CEO Ronald LeMay left after just three months to return to his old job as president and COO of
, which was off 1 3/4 to 50 7/8. CFO John Sanford quit to become CFO of
, which gained 3/4 to 38 3/4. A steady stream of firms downgraded WMX, including
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
plummeted 9 1/2, or 34.2%, to 18 3/8 after it said it was rescheduling its third-quarter earnings release because of unanticipated issues raised by its auditors. Goldman Sachs downgraded Pegasystems to market outperform from the recommended list.
PC stocks were all over the map during the session as the bulls and bears squared off, with the bears seeming to win the day.
plunged 5 1/2 to 78 as positive moves from Merrill Lynch and Salomon Brothers failed to counter a downgrade to buy from strong buy at
BT Alex. Brown
, like Dell the beneficiary of a Salomon upgrade and a Merrill reiteration, sloughed off 2 3/16 to 61 1/4. Salomon restarted coverage of
at hold; it lost 1 7/16 to 28. The firm restarted
at underperform, sending it down 1 to 16 1/2.
was chopped 4 7/16 to 75 3/4 after
downgraded it to hold from buy and trimmed 1997 and 1998 earnings estimates.
rocketed 6 5/16, or 26.9%, to an all-time high of 29 15/16 after it agreed to be acquired by
for $359.2 million in stock. BB&T lost 1 11/16 to 54 1/2.
whistled down 4 3/8, or 18.7%, to 19 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 35 cents per share, 2 cent shy of the 10-analyst consensus estimate but up from the year-ago 24 cents. The company warned of slowing sales in its new CLARiiON product line.
fell 1 1/2, or 9.5%, to 14 1/4 after it announced late
yesterday a broad shakeup, including the resignation of Chairman and CEO Ed McCracken.
molted 2 3/16, or 17.5%, to 10 7/16 after reporting third-quarter earnings of 16 cents per share. That missed the 13-analyst view by 4 cents and fell short of the year-ago 26 cents. The company said its board recommended transforming the company from a franchiser to a 100% company-owned restaurant concern.
was slammed 5, or 17.3%, to 24 after announcing late
yesterday that it plans to acquire
for $6.8 billion, plus the assumption of $1.2 billion in debt. MedPartners slipped 1 1/8 to 25 3/4. Merrill Lynch downgraded PhyCor to near-term neutral from accumulate, maintaining a long-term buy.
powered up 5 1/4, or 16.1%, to 37 7/8 after reporting late
yesterday third-quarter earnings 2 cents per share better than expected.
Deutsche Morgan Grenfell
upgraded the stock to accumulate from hold and Goldman Sachs raised it to market outperform from market perform.
was slashed 3 1/2, or 15.6%, to 19 after reporting late yesterday third-quarter earnings of 35 cents per share. That missed the three-analyst expectation by 6 cents but bettered the year-ago 24 cents.
jumped 1 11/16, or 15.3%, to 12 3/4 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 20 cents per share. That beat the four-analyst forecast by a penny and was up from the year-ago 1 cent.
skidded 13/32 to 47 1/32 despite inking a deal to sell $3 billion worth of jets to that human-rights paradise, China.
rose 2 to 35 3/4 after signing a 30-city long-distance connection agreement with
. AT&T declined 1/4 to 48 1/8.
surrendered 2 1/4 to 30 1/2 after it priced an offering of 9 million shares at $31 per share. The company also set a buyback of 3 million shares at $29.90 per share.
fell 3 13/16 to 118 3/8 as it removed itself from the bidding for the stock business of
, a unit of the U.K.'s
rose 1 1/2 to 33 on news of a 48% surge in its October same-store sales.