John J. Edwards III
After diving below its 1996 year-end close of 6448.27 more than once in a choppy trading session, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
furiously treaded water late in the day to stay barely afloat for the year with a loss of 39.66 to 6477.35.
Even that relatively modest decline wasn't what it seemed, however, as four stocks accounted for 31.73 points of the drop:
. One gauge of the broader relative strength in stocks was the big-cap
, which crept up 0.21 to 750.32.
The two oil stocks joined their entire industry in plunging on negative comments from
and low crude-oil prices. Chevron fell 2 3/4 to 64 3/8, Exxon lost 2 3/4 to 102 1/4, former Dow member
skidded 3 1/8 to 102 3/4 and oil-service company
gave up 2 5/8 to 64 3/8.
Boeing swooped down 2 3/8 to 95 7/8 on last night's news that U.S. officials ordered inspections of the wing flaps of some Boeing 767s. Last week a bolt on a
767 failed and a 20-foot flap section fell off.
As for Big Periwinkle, the computer giant lost 2 3/8 to 131 3/8 after
The Wall Street Journal
highlighted downward revisions of earnings estimates. There was little spillover to other computer companies, with
unchanged at 50 5/8,
up 1 1/4 to 74 and
up 7/8 to 68 3/4.
Technology and financial issues, battered recently by concerns about earnings and interest rates, were among the market's leaders today. Dow component
rose 2 1/8 to 99,
added 1 1/4 to 101 3/8 and
gained 1 3/4 to 111 5/8. On the
Nasdaq Composite Index
, the six most active stocks were high-tech names and all moved sharply higher as the measure bounced off the 1200 level.
Alan Ackerman, market strategist at
, said the markets were nervous in advance of tomorrow's important March employment report. The bond market expressed its nervousness as stasis, with yield on the bellwether 30-year Treasury bond basically unchanged at 7.07%. "The
stock market does not seem to have found a footing from which to begin a rally," he said. "My own investment advice is cash and caution at the moment."
earnings preview dialed up big gains for
equipment spinoff rose 1 3/4 to 52 after saying its second-quarter earnings would be 9 cents to 10 cents per share. The
consensus estimate was just 4 cents.
Also gaining on an upbeat forecast was
, which leapt 11/16 to 3 after saying it expects second-quarter earnings in line with the First Call view of 1 cent per share.
went quite the other way, hemorrhaging 1 3/4 to 6 5/8 on analyst downgrades after it previewed a first-quarter loss.
continued to cruise higher on takeover speculation, tacking on 1 to 18 7/8.
rallied 2 3/8 to 58 3/8 on an upgrade to strong buy from buy by
. The brokerage -- whose parent,
, gained 3/4 to 53 1/4 on rumors of new merger activity in its industry -- cited AES' deal to build and run a power plant in Brazil.
just can't get enough of this Internet stuff. On the heels of Monday's announcement of a new Disney Web site for kids, the Mickey Mouse outfit announced the impending debut of the 24-hour service
. Partners in the venture include
and site designer
-- in which Disney just bought a big stake. Disney shares slipped 1/4 to 72 5/8, while AOL added 7/8 to 45 1/2 and Netscape rose 1/2 to 29 5/8.
fell 3/4 to 10 1/4 after saying it expects earnings "somewhat lower" than analysts' estimates. First Call was looking for 21 cents per share.
imploded 2 1/16 to 4 11/16 on last night's news that it suspended development of its Auriculin drug.
got crushed 1 5/8 to 8 3/8 after saying it expects a first-quarter loss of 22 cents to 26 cents per share, compared with the First Call estimate of an 8-cent profit.
(ILOGY:Nasdaq ADR) absorbed a forced stock split of more than 2-for-1, collapsing 4 to 3 1/2 after previewing a first-quarter loss.
downgraded the stock to buy from strong buy.
fell 3/4 to 37 1/4 despite reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 11 cents per share, 4 cents better than the First Call expectation. The company said it would continue to seek merger and acquisition opportunities.
An upgrade to buy from accumulate at
Dean Witter Reynolds
boosted shares of
HBO & Co.
5 1/8 to 48 3/4.
also benefited from an upgrade, rising 3 1/2 to 37 3/4 on
hike to outperform from market performer and
increase to strong buy from buy.
Spanish-language TV company
took a big hit on downgrades at Alex. Brown and Salomon, losing 6 1/4 to 20.
got a bad checkup from
, which cut its rating on the company to outperform from buy. Patterson lost 2 3/4 to 31 1/4.