Stocks Improve in Home Stretch, Ending Higher - TheStreet

Stocks Improve in Home Stretch, Ending Higher

The Nasdaq racks up a 1.3% gain to end the short week, and other major indices bounce as well.
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Stocks closed out the shortened trading week on the upside, with the

Nasdaq Composite Index

playing a starring role, while the 30-year Treasury bond took another beating.

The Nasdaq Comp surged 32.31, or 1.3%, to 2493.71. Elsewhere, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

increased 46.35, or 0.5%, to 9832.51. The

S&P 500

gained 7.40, or 0.6%, to 1293.77. The

Russell 2000

added 1.11, or 0.3%, to 398.74.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index advanced 14.42, or 2.2%, to 657.43.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

rose 2.68, or 2.4%, to 116.12.

Meanwhile, in a shortened session, the 30-year bond was down 24/32 to 93 26/32, yielding 5.68%. Strong economic news helped send bonds lower. The March

Purchasing Managers Index

came in at 54.3 from 52.4 in February, stronger than what economists had predicted.

Looking ahead, tomorrow the March

employment report

will be released and the bond market will close at noon EST.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

advancers beat decliners 1,512 to 1,443 on 706 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, losers beat winners 2,119 to 1,872 on 849 million shares.

The stock market is closed tomorrow for Good Friday. Meanwhile, tonight is the second night of Passover.

On the NYSE, 92 issues set new 52-week lows while 29 touched new highs. On the Nasdaq, 161 issues set new lows while new highs totaled 76.

On the Big Board,

America Online

(AOL)

was most active, with 22.1 million shares changing hands. It was up 3 to 150.

On the Nasdaq,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

was most active, with 20.2 million shares changing hands. It was up 3 1/8 to 92 11/16.

Market data above are preliminary. Updated numbers and analysis will follow in the Market Roundup

.

2:56 p.m.: Market Eases Into Final Hour With Modest Gains

The major market barometers were mixed heading into the final hour of trading as market participants (what's left of them) looked ahead to the long weekend.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 3 to 9789. The

S&P 500

was up 2 to 1288. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 15 to 2476. The

Russell 2000

was down 1 to 397.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 5 to 648.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

was up 1 to 114.

Ricky Harrington, senior vice president and technical analyst at

Interstate/Johnson Lane

, said that overall the market's poor technical picture -- negative market breadth, the number of new lows compared to new highs -- warrants a lot of caution on the market.

Harrington said tomorrow's

employment report may set the tone for stocks early next week. Tomorrow the stock market is closed, while the bond market is open only until noon EST. The bond market closes early today also, at 3 p.m. EST.

Looking ahead, traders and investors have another earnings season ahead of them as quarterly results will soon stream forth from the corporate public relations machines.

Harrington said he thinks earnings will be reasonably good for the most part, considering there haven't been too many unfavorable preannouncements.

He doesn't think, however, that if the earnings season is positive that it will have much of an impact on the market because he believes much of the potential good news has been factored in already.

Meanwhile in the Treasury market, the 30-year bond was down 22/32 to 93 25/32, yielding 5.69%.

In economic news, the March

Purchasing Managers Index

came in at 54.3 from 52.4 in February, stronger than what economists had predicted.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, decliners were beating advancers 1,534 to 1,407 on 550 million shares. On the Nasdaq, losers were beating winners 2,123 to 1,776 on 662 million shares.

On the NYSE, 83 issues had set new 52-week lows while 26 had touched new highs. On the Nasdaq, 138 stocks had set new lows while 60 touched new highs.

On the Big Board,

America Online

(AOL)

was most active, with 17.5 million shares changing hands. It was down 1/2 to 146 1/2.

On the Nasdaq,

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

was most active, with 15.9 million shares changing hands. It was down 9/16 to 25 13/16.

1:57 p.m.: Nasdaq Edges Other Major Indices With Mild Gain

The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was the market's leader this afternoon, as the market's other major averages were slightly higher on light volume.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 18 to 9804.

The

S&P 500

was up 4 to 1290. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 20 to 2482. The

Russell 2000

was up fractionally to 398.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 2 to 645.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

was up a hair to 114.

The 30-year Treasury bond was down 18/32, to 94 yielding 5.67%.

Acqusition announcements helped give stocks a nice lift in the early going, however, that enthusiasm faded quickly. Among today's announcements:

BP Amoco

(BPA)

is buying

Atlantic Richfield

(ARC) - Get Report

,

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

is purchasing

broadcast.com

(BCST)

and

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

is acquiring

King World Productions

(KWP)

.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, decliners were beating advancers 1,475 to 1,376 on 447 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, losers were beating winners 2,027 to 1,7457 on 543 million shares.

On the NYSE, 72 issues had set new 52-week lows while 24 had touched new highs. On the Nasdaq, 120 issues had set new lows while new highs totaled 59.

On the Big Board,

America Online

(AOL)

was most active, with 15.1 million shares changing hands. It was down 1 3/4 to 145 1/4.

On the Nasdaq,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

was most active, with 13.4 million shares changing hands. It was up 2 5/16 to 91 15/16.

Sector Focus: Forest & Paper Products

A

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

upgrade of

Mead

(MEA)

helped give the forest and paper products sector a boost today. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Forest & Paper Product Index

was up 2.8%. Mead was up 2 15/16, or 7.5%, to 33 1/16.

Morgan Stanley today upgraded Mead to strong buy from outperform.

Index component

Georgia-Pacific

(GP)

was a decent-sized winner, up 3 15/16, or 5.3%, to 78 3/16.

12:56 p.m.: Midday Musings: Choppiness Rules the Day as Wall Street Looks to the Weekend

Noon: Stocks Mostly Higher as Early Enthusiasm Fades

The major market averages were mostly higher late this morning, but the market's early pop was becoming but a distant memory.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 11 to 9798. The

S&P 500

was up 1 to 1288.

The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 10 to 2472. The Nasdaq Comp hit its session high about five minutes after the open. It rose as much as 41 to 2502.46 before fading.

The

Russell 2000

was down fractionally to 397.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up fractionally to 643.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

was down fractionally to 113.

Stocks were boosted in part in the early going by some sizable takeover announcements.

BP Amoco

(BPA)

agreed to buy

Atlantic Richfield

(ARC) - Get Report

for $26.8 billion in stock. BP Amoco was down 3 13/16 to 97 3/16, while Arco was unchanged at 73 1/8.

Meanwhile,

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

is acquiring

King World Productions

(KWP)

for about $2.5 billion. CBS was down 1 1/4 to 39 9/16, while King World was up 3/16 to 30 3/4.

The 30-year Treasury bond was down 24/32, to 93 26/32 yielding 5.682%.

Highlighting economic news,

National Association of Purchasing Management

said its March index of manufacturing activity rose to 54.3 from 52.4 in February. The number was stronger than economists expected.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, decliners were beating advancers 1,376 to 1,333 on 307 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, losers were beating winners 1,849 to 1,599 on 366 million shares.

On the NYSE, 55 issues had set new 52-week lows while 21 had touched new highs. On the Nasdaq, 84 issues had set new lows while new highs totaled 42.

On the Big Board,

America Online

(AOL)

was most active, with 12.3 million shares changing hands. It was down 11/16 to 146 3/16.

On the Nasdaq,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

was most active, with 10.4 million shares changing hands. It was up 1 7/16 to 91.

Tech Focus

The

Nasdaq 100

was up 0.7%, while the

Morgan Stanley High-Tech 35

was up 0.5%. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was up 2.3%.

In the news,

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

said it is buying

broadcast.com

(BCST)

in a deal valued at about $5.7 billion. Yahoo! was up 5 1/8 to 173 5/16, while broadcast.com has surged 8 3/4, or 7.4%, to 127.

Shares of

Iona Technologies

(IONA)

were getting crushed after it said it expects first-quarter results to fall below its expectations. Ireland's Iona, a software maker, expects to post between a loss of 3 cents a share to breakeven compared to earnings of 10 cents in the year-ago period. Iona was down 16 1/8, or 53.5%, to 14 1/8.

In the Newsletters

A 300-MHz version of

Apple's

(AAPL) - Get Report

popular

iMac

computer will debut at Macworld Boston in August, with a 333-MHz version soon after that, an article on

Computer Retail Week's

Web site says, citing sources close to Apple.

The article says the next generation of the consumer systems will also feature Apple's second-generation Columbus motherboard. The article also says price is also likely to come down. The low-end 233-MHz iMac will go for $899, according to reports, while the basic model of the current iMac at the Apple online store costs $1,199 for a 266-MHz. model. According to Schelley Olhava, an analyst with International Data, steady improvement on price per performance, rather than new colors or other design changes, will be most important in determining the iMac's future success, the article says.

Shares of Apple were down 3/16 to 35 3/4.

10:54 a.m.: Stocks Come Off Early Highs

Stocks surrendered their early takeover-news-fueled gains as the market's major averages were narrowly mixed at midmorning.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 5 to 9791. The

S&P 500

was down half a point to 1286. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 3 to 2464. The small-cap

Russell 2000

was down a fraction to 397.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was down 2 to 641.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

was down 1 to 113.

"It's fairly quiet so far," said Scott Curtis, senior equity trader at

Brown Brothers Harriman

, adding that if

New York Stock Exchange

volume made it over above 700 million, "I'd be really amazed."

Trading is expected to be light ahead of the long weekend. The stock market is closed tomorrow for Good Friday. Meanwhile, tonight marks the second night of Passover.

The merger announcements today -- all of which have been rumored and spoken about for a while now -- gave the market a quick push up this morning, but it's almost as if it was a "sucker rally," said Curtis, a little while after 10 a.m. EST.

In M&A news,

BP Amoco

(BPA)

agreed to buy

Atlantic Richfield

(ARC) - Get Report

for $26.8 billion in stock. BP Amoco was down 4 1/8 to 96 7/8, while Arco fell 1/4 to 72 7/8.

Elsewhere,

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

said it is buying

broadcast.com

(BCST)

in a deal valued at about $5.7 billion. Yahoo! was up 2 3/8 to 170 3/4, while broadcast.com has surged 7, or 5.9%, to 125.

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

is acquiring

King World Productions

(KWP)

for about $2.5 billion. CBS was down 1 1/4 to 39 9/16, while King World -- distributor of

The Oprah Winfrey Show

,

Wheel of Fortune

,

Jeopardy!

and

Hollywood Squares

-- was up 1/4 to 30 13/16.

The 30-year bond was down 17/32 to 94 1/32, yielding 5.67%, taking a hit in the wake of today's economic news.

Topping today's releases, the

National Association of Purchasing Management

said its March index of manufacturing activity rose to 54.3 from 52.4 in February. The number was stronger than economists expected.

On the New York Stock Exchange, advancers were beating decliners 1,357 to 1,261 on 218 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, losers were leading winner 1,612 to 1,556 on 269 million shares.

On the NYSE, 44 issues had set new 52-week lows while 18 had touched new highs. On the Nasdaq, 57 issues had set new lows while new highs totaled 36.

On the Big Board,

America Online

(AOL)

was most active, with 9.8 million shares changing hands. It was up 1 to 148.

On the Nasdaq,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

was most active, with 8.5 million shares changing hands. It was up 1 1/8 to 90 3/4.

9:57 a.m.: Nasdaq Leads as Stocks Move Higher at the Open

Stocks were firm early on, led by the tech sector, in the wake of three big takeover announcements.

The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 29 to 2490. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 27 to 9814. The

S&P 500

was up 5 to 1292. The

Russell 2000

was up 2 to 400.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 13 to 656.

TheStreet.com E-Commerce Index

was up 2 to 115.

BP Amoco

(BPA)

agreed to buy

Atlantic Richfield

(ARC) - Get Report

for $26.8 billion in stock. Elsewhere,

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

said it is buying

broadcast.com

(BCST)

in a deal valued at about $5.7 billion, while

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

is acquiring

King World Productions

(KWP)

for about $2.5 billion.

The 30-year Treasury bond was down 9/32 to 94 9/32 yielding 5.65%. In minutes, the

National Association of Purchasing Management

is slated release its March index.

Most Up at Open -- NYSE

America Online (AOL) , up 5 to 152 11/16

.

Most Up at Open -- Nasdaq

RealNetworks (RNWK) - Get Report, up 14 7/16 to 136 5/8

.

Most Down at Open -- NYSE

Union Pacific (UNP) - Get Report, down 1 13/16 to 51 5/8

.

Most Down at Open -- Nasdaq

Iona Technologies (IONA) , down 13 1/2 to 16 7/8

: The company said first-quarter results will be below its expectations. The company expects to post a loss of between 3 cents a share and break-even, compared with earnings of 10 cents a share in the year-ago period.