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Stocks Lower in Light, Volatile Trading

Eyes are on Tuesday's FOMC meeting.

With investors tense ahead of tomorrow's

Federal Open Market Committee

meeting, the market at midmorning was exactly what you'd expect it to be: Light, volatile and down.

"It's just an absence of buyers," said Doug Myers, vice president of equity at

Wachovia Securities

. "After

Friday's CPI numbers came out, a lot of stock managers and portfolio managers and the like had to sit down and reassess."

It looks like a lot of them are still reassessing -- or at least staying out of the market until tomorrow's meeting is done with. At this point, the market expects that the Fed will announce a change in bias toward tightening -- basically telling the market they expect they may have to raise rates and preparing investors for that possibility. It's a far cry from this fall, when people were talking about how many more times the Fed was going to

cut

rates this year, and this winter, when everyone was saying the Fed's on hold forever. That makes the outlook for stocks look a little dangerous.

"The market is not a pleasant place to be right now," said Myers. "I guess this is why the call it work."

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was down 78 to 10,835 while the

S&P 500

was down 8 to 1329. The tech-tuffed

Nasdaq Composite

was down 15 to 2513 and

TheStreet.com Internet Sector Index

was off 8 to 622. The

Russell 2000

was down 3 to 440.

Trading in the bond market was light and volatile. The 30-year was lately down 2/32 to 90 22/32.

Schwab Trades Increase

Charles Schwab

(SCH)

today said it put through 34% more trades in April than in March. Average daily revenue trades jumped to 207,700 from March's 155,200 and from 101,100 in April of 1998. The company's president and co-chief executive officer, David Pottruck, warned, however, that April's extreme activity isn't being duplicated so far this month. Customers trading habits in May, he said, are closer to that of March.

--

Caroline Humer

9:55 a.m.: Stocks Modestly Lower Amid Rate Concerns

Continuing worries about higher interest rates have the major indices on the downside, though not extremely badly.

Interest rates actually are declining modestly, with the bellwether 30-year Treasury bond up 9/32 to 90 31/32 with its yield easing to 5.90%.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was down 60 to 10,853, with

IBM

(IBM) - Get International Business Machines (IBM) Report

and

General Motors

(GM) - Get General Motors Company (GM) Report

applying the most pressure. The

S&P 500

TheStreet Recommends

was down 7 to 1331.

On the tech side, the

Nasdaq Composite Index

was off 12 to 2516, with

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report

and

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Sunworks, Inc. Report

leading the way down.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report

was up 11/16 to 77 5/8, however.

The

Russell 2000

was down 2 to 441 and

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was off 3 to 626.

Most Up at Open -- NYSE

Frontier (FRO) - Get Frontline Ltd. Report, up 1 3/4 to 57 7/8

: The company, already set to merge with

Global Crossing

(GBLX)

, was benefiting from terms of Global Crossing's just-announced merger with

U S West

(USW)

.

Most Up at Open -- Nasdaq

Medical Manager (MMGR) , up 14 5/16 to 48 1/16

:

Synetic

(SNTC)

agreed to acquire Medical Manager for $1.4 billion.

Most Down at Open -- NYSE

IBM, down 2 5/8 to 236 5/8

.

Most Down at Open -- Nasdaq

Synetic, down 3 to 92 1/2

: See above.

--

John J. Edwards III