Updated from 9:44 a.m. EST.
Tech investors were shaking off any jitters and giving a little lift to the
Nasdaq Composite Index. It was lately gaining 23 to 2667. The blue chip
Dow Jones Industrial Average reversed course and was lately up 20 to 10,986.
Fears of a recession in earnings and the economy continue to preoccupy the market, and neither buyers nor sellers may get very far today.
A negative report on
analyst Ravi Suria this morning is driving the stock lower. He said Amazon.com's working capital or net available liquidity at the end of fourth quarter is only $386 million, "well below our estimated liquidity requirements for the year." The liquidty problem could cause a creditor squeeze in the second half of the year, he said, "creating considerable downside risk to revenue and cash estimates for the second half." Suria was the Lehman analyst who last year sounded the alarms about Amazon. It was lately down 3%.
And Wall Street is still abuzz about networker
earnings, which will be released after the market closes today. The company's earnings are expected to set the tone for the beleaguered infrastructure sector. But after so much tech selling in the past few days, investors may want to compensate for the possibility that the earnings report will come in OK, one trader said. After falling sharply in the past two weeks, Cisco was trading 0.9% higher.
"We've got Cisco coming out, and for the last couple of days people have had enough time to go short and sell stocks," said Ray Hawkins, vice president of block trading at
. "There should be some stability today. It feels firm. But we're going to build into a trading range over the next six months -- people don't want to pay ridiculous price-to-earnings valuations right now. They're looking for bargains."
Investors will probably trade cautiously ahead of tomorrow's
productivity report. High productivity has been responsible for the economic boom of recent years, allowing for strong growth without runaway inflation. The big question now is whether the
Federal Reserve can help stave off a recession in corporate earnings and throughout the economy. General market sentiment may remain soggy after Friday's
employment report softened investor expectations about how aggressive the Fed might be with further rate cuts. The Fed cut rates twice last month in an effort to reignite economic growth. The market hungers for rate cuts since they make it cheaper to pay off debt and encourage consumer and corporate spending.
On today's data front, consumer spending moves to the front burner, with the release of the latest
BTM-UBSW Weekly Chain Store Sales Index
for the week ended Feb. 3 and the
Redbook Retail Average
for the month ended Feb. 3. Consumer spending is the biggest contributor to the U.S. economy, so it's a good gauge of how far and how fast the economy is moving. The weekly BTM-UBSW index rose 0.6% in the week ended Jan. 28. The Redbook Retail Average rose 2.2% for the month ended Jan. 3. Investors have focused much attention on the retail sector since the last holiday season showed consumers had clearly slowed their shopping trips.
The BTM-USBW index is based on sales results reported by seven retailers:
S&P Retail Index
slipped lower after the Fed cut interest rates last week because investors questioned whether the stocks rallied to headily in anticipation of the rate cut. The index was up 1% this morning.
And now, back to Cisco. Many on the Street expect the company's earnings release late this afternoon could set the tone for all tech infrastructure companies in the coming weeks and months. But it's the company's outlook and not the most recent results that are the real concern. Cisco almost always beats earnings estimates by a penny, and analysts expect it will do so again -- even though CEO John Chambers recently spoke words of warning about the company's business in January. But back in early December, Chambers also revised his earnings growth forecasts for 2001 year to between 30% and 50% from 55% to 65%.
For Cisco and all companies, there is concern about visibility -- or companies' ability to
forecast future performance at this murky juncture in the economy. Many companies in the networking and chip-making space have recently complained of poor visibility. These include networking chipmaker
, optical producer
and fiber optic components giant
, among others. Confessions of clouded visibility suggest that the predictions we've all been hearing about a pickup in business for the second half of 2001 may not be trustworthy. And that's no good for stock valuations.
JDSU reportedly received approval from the U.S. Justice Department for its acquisition of rival
. Antitrust concerns regarding the $17.6 billion acquisition were resolved after JDS Uniphase agreed to sell a laser plant to
for about $3 billion. The Justice Department was concerned the merged JDS Uniphase and SDL would monopolize the market for lasers used to amplify signals on fiber networks.
separate story on the news. JDSU was up 5.5%. SDL was up 7.6%.
Back to top
Treasuries were stronger this morning. The benchmark 10-year
Treasury note was lately up 4/32 to 104 12/32, yielding 5.164%.
Back to top
European markets were ambling higher near their midday.
was up 25.10 to 6294.30. Across the channel, Paris'
was up 7.59 to 5831.08, while Germany's
was lifting 38.70 to 6666.77.
The dollar was lately rising against the dollar, up to 0.9322 euro.
Asian markets were mixed overnight. Japan's
fell headlong into the red again, closing down 115.67 to 13,269.85. Hong Kong's
ended higher, up 82.40 to 15,913.24.
The greenback was lower to 114.82 yen.
Back to top