SAN FRANCISCO -- For all the complaints registered about the head-spinning volatility in recent weeks, at least nobody was lacking for trades to make or theories to describe the action. Today was quite the opposite, as few were complaining but nobody was terribly excited, either.
One sub-theme that emerged in a fairly dreary session was that anyone betting leadership has reverted back to the so-called value stocks and away from technology got a comeuppance.
"We had a nice rally in nontech names but I don't believe that's sustainable," said Philip Tasho, CEO of
Riggs Investment Management
in Washington. "I think tech will continue to do well because it so dominates everything that's going on."
Many market players reflected that sentiment today as large-cap tech proved one of the few areas of strength despite a big hit to the erstwhile market-cap champion.
may have lost the top market-cap spot to
last week, but the software giant still has a big sway over major averages. Thus, the resilience of tech proxies was even more impressive as the software giant fell 7% as investors expressed disappointment the company did not reach a settlement with the
over the weekend.
Restrained by the Redmond Menace, the
Nasdaq Composite Index
closed off 4.90, or 0.1%, to 4958.13 after trading as high as 5022.23. But evoking the overall strength of tech bellwethers, the
rose 0.3%, the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
climbed 1.4% and
Morgan Stanley High-Tech 35
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index fell 11.56, or 0.9%, to 1260.97 after trading as high as 1290.26.
The Comp was sustained by strength in market-cap leader Cisco, chip giant
and other tech favorites, such as
Among tech names in the news, Internet client/server technology company
leapt 17.9% after receiving a $2.5 billion buyout offer from interactive television outfit
, which fell 22.9%.
rose 4.9% and
climbed 9% after the two firms
agreed to a $5 billion business-to-business Internet venture.
jumped 10.1% in heavy trading amid speculation it could be a takeover target.
Among other Big Board-traded tech giants,
were standouts on the upside.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
fell 86.87, or 0.8%, to 11,025.85 thanks largely to losses in Microsoft, as well as financial components
Financial stocks in general tumbled from big gains posted last week. The
Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index
fell 1% while the
American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index
tumbled 37.6% after
warning its first-quarter earnings will not meet expectations.
Whipsawed between strength in bellwether tech names and weakness almost everywhere else, the
fell from its recent record-setting pace, closing down 3.65, or 0.2%, to 1523.81.
slid 0.36, or 0.1%, to 573.65 amid negative breadth but relatively light trading volumes.
New York Stock Exchange
trading, 881.2 million shares were exchanged while declining stocks led advancers 1,681 to 1,288. In
Nasdaq Stock Market
action 1.36 billion shares traded while losers led 2,316 to 1,887. New 52-week highs bested new lows 90 to 49 on the Big Board and by 113 to 69 in over-the-counter trading.
The Waiting Game
Given the big moves registered last week, few market players were surprised, or terribly disappointed, by today's setback
"Quiet, sloppy action is the only way to describe today's trade," said Bryan Piskorowski, market analyst at
. "It's just backing and filling. A little bit of consolidation after the run is not too surprising."
A "news vacuum" served as a restraining factor today, Piskorowski also observed. "We've got nothing to work with."
Issues on the market's wait list include an actual settlement or decision in Microsoft case and final decision on production increases from
. Energy stocks were mixed today after OPEC officials suggested they would increase production, but not by enough believed necessary to significantly reduce the price of crude.
Also, there is little significant economic data on the calendar until the March payroll figures are announced April 7, the analyst said.
There is a pleasant aspect to the silence. Piskorowski noted the absence of preannouncements from major technology firms, despite various rumors last week about warnings from companies such as
"That's leading people in a more positive direction coming into earnings" and was a reason for technology's relative strength today, he said. "Tech remains the place we want to stay invested."
The price of the 10-year Treasury note rose 2/32 to 102 9/32, its yield dipping to 6.19%.
Among other indices, the
Dow Jones Transportation Average
fell 20.34, or 0.8%, to 2667.81; the
Dow Jones Utility Average
rose 3.43, or 1.2%, to 290.70; and the
American Stock Exchange Composite Index
fell 8.64, or 0.8%, to 1023.87.
For coverage of today's top stocks in the news, see the Company Report, published separately