The Night Watch: Tech Sees a Glimmer of Light at the End of a Pit of Despair

Many tech names ramped up in the final 35 minutes of trading; the Nasdaq rebounds 100 points.
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Put simply, Thursday was the kind of horror show that makes a mid-80s

Motley Crue

tour bus look like a Sunday-afternoon

Sunshine Gang

charter to Atlantic City.

But there was a glimmer of light at the end of the pit of despair, with many tech names in the

Nasdaq Composite Index

ramping up in the final 35 minutes of trading. What once had lost close to 300 points found a 100-point rebound. Names like

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

and

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

went

ka-boing

, bouncing off their intraday lows.

The best example that the Nasdaq's looking a little better -- the

QQQ

(QQQ) - Get Report

tracking stock, which is linked to the

Nasdaq 100

. As of 4 p.m. EST, the New York close, it was down 4 3/8, or 4%, to 105 5/8 during the day, while making a beeline for 103 before buyers saved it. Thursday night, those QQQ issues rose in composite trading and on

Instinet

. At last check, those day-session losses were pared down to 2 3/4, with a new composite close of 107 1/4. That's a 1 5/8-point gain from the 4 p.m. close.

On Instinet, things were even better. QQQ issues closed at 107 1/2, a small sign that the selling may have abated, at least for the evening.

After ending Thursday barebacked and busted, investors slowly found those lost shirts and bellied up to the tech table.

After hitting a day-session low of 139 1/4, Qualcomm recovered and ended the day off 12 1/4 at 145 1/4. Tonight, Super Q rose 1 3/8 to 146 1/2 on 17,000 shares on

Island

.

Intel, the chipmaker gained 2 1/4 to 129 1/2 on 213,000 shares on Instinet and 1 1/2 to 128 5/8 on 61,000 shares on Island. That extends a 40-minute, 4-point rally into the evening. Thursday's 3.7% might have hurt Intel investors, but the 24 points it added to the

Dow Jones Industrial Average's

bad side hurt others. Still, that could have been worse. Before the rally started, Intel was off close to 124.

Elsewhere on the Dow,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

, which added 19 to the blue-chip ballast while falling 3 13/16 in heavy volume, was another patient in the recovery ward. It edged up 1 1/8 to 104 1/2 on 81,000 shares on Instinet and 15/16 to 104 1/4 on 20,000 shares on Island.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

had a bad day, along with the rest of

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index. It ended down 7 9/16, or 4.3%, at 169 1/2. Things have since brightened. It was last up 3 1/4 at 172 3/4 on 20,000 shares on Island. Another member of the DOT,

BroadVision

(BVSN) - Get Report

, rose 1 13/16 to 52 15/16 on 16,000 shares on Island after falling 4.5% during the day.

Like the previously mentioned QQQ issues,

America Online

(AOL)

also made moves in composite trading. After closing at 64 5/8 in New York, it had a composite close of 65 two and a half hours later. On Instinet, it matched this post-close move, gaining 3/8 from the N.Y. close to 65.

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

saw the light and gained 1 to 79 7/16 on 233,000 shares on Instinet, the most actively traded issue.

JDS Uniphase

(JDSU)

also had a good night, gaining 47/64 to 116 63/64 on 80,000 shares on Instinet.

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

was still sucking wind, unable to find its legs. It fell 1/4 to 73 3/8 on 217,000 on Instinet and 13/64 to 73 13/32 on 36,000 shares on Island, after dropping 2 7/16 to 73 5/8 during the day. Like other tech names, it teased a rally. Unlike those other tech names, that was all it did -- tease.

Telecommunications provider

e.spire

(ESPI)

gave investors a reason to perspire after warning about its fourth quarter, which inspired selling. It was last off 3 49/64 to 5 59/64 on 42,000 shares on Instinet and 3 1/4 to 6 7/16 on 133,000 on Island.

Why did the company miss? Well, e.spire failed to comply with credit agreements and said it expects to post an earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and noncash compensation (EBITDA, to you acronym fans) loss of about $35 million. Revenue should come in somewhere around $55 million.

Fallout from the missed earnings has been pretty severe. The company said it failed to meet certain covenants in its $200 million Senior Secured Credit Facility and, as a result, has called in the investment cavalry to explore options.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

has been hired by e.spire to keep the company from expiring by exploring alternatives, including new financing and divestitures.

Before the news hit, e.spire's front office got a shake-up with a new interim CEO being named, along with a new COO. During the day session, e.spire fell 3/4 to 9 11/16.

This information is provided by Instinet, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reuters (RTRSY) . For further information, please contact Instinet at www.instinet.com.

Island ECN, owned by Datek Online, offers trading, mainly in Nasdaq-listed stocks, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

Confused?

TheStreet.com

explains how the rules change when the sun goes down in Investing Basics: Night Owl, a section devoted to after-hours trading.