Stocks Drift Higher on Light Volume

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The stock market treaded water on a semi-holiday of extraordinarily low volume, resting up for an

Ironman

swim through the choppiest part of the earnings season.

All of the major indices popped higher this morning, then came off their highs to close not too far from break-even. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

, which traded as high as 8114.71 before 10 a.m. EDT, slid back to close up 27.01 at 8072.22. Earnings-related news propelled the index's top performers:

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

up 1 11/16 to 120 3/8 despite missing

First Call's

third-quarter estimate by 3 cents per share, and

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

and

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

moved up smartly on positive earnings outlooks.

Nasdaq Stock Market

volume managed to stay around its daily average, but the

New York Stock Exchange

had one of its thinnest days of the year as many Wall Streeters took advantage of the closed bond market to enjoy a three-day weekend. Big Board advancers outpaced decliners by 1,503 to 1,327 on a paltry 357.8 million shares. On the Nasdaq, 2,340 advancers led 2,123 decliners on 664.9 million shares.

Among the other major indices, the broad

S&P 500

rose 1.12 to 968.10, the tech-bedecked

Nasdaq Composite Index

gained 3.08 to 1742.11 and the small-cap

Russell 2000

edged up 0.18 to a record 465.21.

"The absence of trading in the bond market has made some equity players a bit fearless, and without a counterpoint to go by -- namely the bond market -- it seems that some of Mr.

Greenspan's

remarks have been quickly forgotten," said Alan Ackerman, market strategist at

Fahnestock

.

A look at today's

Equipro Report

, a

Thomson Research

publication prepared by

Pegasus Econometric Group

, backs up that take on the market's response to

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan's

dark-tinged Wednesday testimony. "More economic data is needed before Greenspan's remarks will bully us out of this market," Pegasus said. "A sustained daily close below 8020

on the Dow will warn that we should take Greenspan's remarks more seriously, and because 8020 is in the thick of daily price action we have nothing to lose by waiting to see if this support holds or not."

Monday's market action

(earnings estimates from

First Call

):

Netcom On-Line Communications Services

(NETC)

exploded up 6 1/8, or 40.8%, to a 52-week high of 21 3/16 after

ICG Communications

(ICGX)

agreed to buy the Internet service provider for $283.5 million in stock. ICG, a competitive local-exchange carrier, lost 7/8 to 25 3/16.

Hummingbird Communications

(HUMCF)

skyrocketed 11 3/8, or 28.1%, to a nearly two-year high of 51 3/4, reportedly on positive comments at a

BT Alex. Brown

conference. (

TheStreet.com

looked into Hummingbird's stunning rise in a

story today.)

Greenfield Industries

(GFII)

surged 5 7/16, or 17%, to a 52-week high of 37 1/2 after

Kennametal

(KMT) - Get Report

agreed to acquire the company in a $1 billion deal. The price includes the assumption of $320 million in Greenfield debt and convertible preferred shares. Kennametal gave up 7/8 to 51 9/16.

Ballard Power Systems

(BLDPF)

surged 8, or 13.1%, to an all-time high of 69 3/8. There was no news that directly explained the rise, but a Saturday

article in

The Financial Post

examined the stock's recent outperformance and offered some possible explanations.

B.A.T Industries

(BTI) - Get Report

rose 13/16 to 75 5/16 after reporting earnings of $1.12 per share, 11 cents better than the 17-analyst estimate and up from the year-ago 86 cents.

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

(DLJ)

retreated from a strong start, gaining 1/2 to 76 after trading as high as 78 5/16. The firm reported earnings of $1.80 per share, crushing the six-analyst expectation of $1.26 and the year-ago 86 cents. (

TheStreet.com

took a glance at DLJ in today's

Midday Musings.)

Manitowoc

(MTW) - Get Report

shed 4 7/16, or 11.5%, to 34 1/16 after reporting third-quarter earnings of 55 cents per share. That beat the year-ago 49 cents but fell short of the four-analyst forecast, 60 cents.

Advanced Energy Industries

(AEIS) - Get Report

leapt 3 3/8, or 11.1%, to an all-time high of 33 15/16 after reporting third-quarter earnings of 24 cents per share. The four-analyst view called for 16 cents and the company made 1 cent a year ago.

Fletcher Challenge Energy

(FEG)

jumped 5, or 8.9%, to an all-time high of 61 3/16 after

Lehman Brothers

started coverage at buy.

Neoprobe

(NEOP)

dropped 1 3/4, or 12.7%, to 12 after the company and

U.S. Surgical

(USS)

terminated a marketing agreement.

Raymond James

cut Neoprobe to neutral from buy. U.S. Surgical inched down 1/16 to 29 5/8.

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

tacked on 2 5/8 to 141 after introducing a new, ultrafast silicon chip.

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Report

Chairman and CEO Roberto Goizueta, suffering from lung cancer, returned to an Atlanta hospital after a throat infection developed complications. He remained in critical condition at the time this story was posted. Coke's stock slipped 3/8 to 61 5/16. In other medical news,

W.R. Grace

(GRA) - Get Report

Chairman, President and CEO Albert Costello was reportedly recovering well from a Saturday heart attack. Grace was down 1/8 to 73 3/4.

Viasoft

(VIAS)

rose 3 11/16 to 53 7/8 after

Goldman Sachs

added it to the firm's U.S. recommended list.

HBO & Co.

(HBOC)

moved up 1 to 42 13/16 after

Credit Suisse First Boston

named it the featured stock of the week.

Continental Airlines

(CAIB)

ascended 1 3/8 to an all-time high of 44 1/16 after

Salomon Brothers

upped it to buy from hold.

CoreStates Financial

(CFL)

declined 1 1/4 to 72 9/16 after Credit Suisse First Boston cut it to hold from buy.

Deere

(DE) - Get Report

-- like which nothing runs -- advanced 1 5/16 to 56 15/16 after

PaineWebber

upgraded it to buy from neutral.

Anchor Gaming

(SLOT)

sloughed off 1 3/4 to 93 1/8 despite reporting first-quarter earnings of $1.23 per share, demolishing the seven-analyst forecast of 99 cents and the year-earlier 60 cents.

Eagle Hardware & Garden

(EAGL)

rose 1 1/8 to 18 1/2 on an upgrade to strong buy from buy at

Dain Bosworth

.

MiniMed

(MNMD)

surrendered 2 1/4 to 42 1/4 after

UBS Securities

lowered it on price to buy from strong buy.

MedCath

(MCTH)

slid 15/16 to 16 3/8 after

Interstate/Johnson Lane

downgraded it to long-term buy from strong buy. The firm trimmed its price target to 22 from 24.

Perkin-Elmer

(PKN)

improved 2 1/16 to 73 after

Deutsche Morgan Grenfell

placed the stock on its U.S. focus list.

Nu Skin Asia Pacific

(NUS) - Get Report

advanced 1 1/16 to 23 13/16 after PaineWebber began coverage at attractive.

Papa John's International

(PZZA) - Get Report

gained 1 3/8 to 35 3/8 after Dain Bosworth initiated coverage at buy. The firm set a 12- to 18-month price target of 47.

Crown Cork & Seal

(CCK) - Get Report

fell 1/2 to 46 1/2 after Salomon Brothers cut it to hold from buy.

Robert Mondavi Winery

(MOND)

enjoyed a fruity but unpretentious rise of 1 3/8 to 55 7/8 after

Smith Barney

initiated coverage at outperform.

NS Group

(NS) - Get Report

was up 3/4 to an all-time high of 40 after

McDonald

started coverage at buy.

Potash

(POT)

fell 13/16 to 83 1/2 after

Schroder

downgraded it to perform in line from outperform.