(Updated from 9:37 a.m ET)

Invetors ran out of the gate at the opening bell to push the

Nasdaq past 3000.

After the tech heavy index's afternoon bounce-back failed to hold yesterday, the Nasdaq slipped back below the important 3000 mark. That was its first close below 3000 since Nov. 2, 1999, so it is having a tangible impact on investor

sentiment.

Investors looking to buy at what they hope are lows pushed the Nasdaq up 127 to 3094. The

Dow was gaining 123 to 10,641. And the

S&P 500, which tracks the broad market, was jumping 22 to 1374.

But there's no telling how far North the Nasdaq will get. Election uncertainty still hovers over the country. News that a resolution may be near could be giving stocks some fuel. The manual recount in Florida has been halted, and a judge will decide by 10:30 a.m. this morning whether a 5 p.m. deadline to certify election results for the state should stand or can be extended.

This morning's

retail sales numbers didn't hurt since they showed a less severe slowdown in consumer spending in October than economists had expected. Retail sales for the month rose 0.1% versus consensus estimates of a 0.2% drop and the previous month's 0.9% rise. The core number, which doesn't include sales of automobiles, came in at a 0.4% rise, versus forecasts of a 0.2% rise and halving the previous month's 0.9% jump.

The

Federal Open Market Committee meets tomorrow to decide what to do with interest rates, and some are speculating it could be the last meeting in the near term at which Greenspan's merry team warns that inflation remains a threat the economy.

Today is also a big retail earnings day in a big retail earnings week. The world's largest retailer,

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

reported third quarter earnings that were up 5.8% this morning, in line with forecasts. Sales for the quarter rose to $45.68 billion from $40.9 billion a year ago. It was jumping 6.9% on the news.

Wal-Mart is an important benchmark for the retail sector because it is the most sophisticated in terms of tracking customers.

Home improvement giant

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

reported earnings this morning that were in line with analyst expectations. Its stock fell to a

52-week low after it warned last month that profits would be lower than expected due to falling prices for lumber and other building materials. It was lately up 6.7% to $39.88.

Another big retailer, office supply chain

Staples

(STPLS)

didn't fare quite as well. The company missed its profit forecasts and warned that fourth quarter earnings would also fall short. Staples blamed a sluggish retail environment and the company's aggressive growth plans. The company's shares were trading 5.5% lower.

Meanwhile, a few companies were in an unfortunate mess this morning, following some nasty analyst calls, including doughnut king

Krispy Kreme

(KREM)

and Internet incubator

CMGI

(CMGI)

. Both stocks were getting whacked in early trading.

On the plus side, some big tech names were helping to power the market's strength this morning.

Nortel

(NT)

,

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and telecom equipment maker

Lucent

(LU)

are trading higher after they announced plans to team up to offer products and services for telecommunications networks. Seperately, Lucent is also getting a lift from news that

Tyco

(TYC)

is

buying Lucent's power systems business for $2.5 billion in cash.

Harmonic

(HLIT) - Get Report

, which makes digital and fiber optic systems for advanced telecom networks, is dragging on news that it will have to restate its third quarter earnings. It was lately off 4.8%.

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Bonds/Economy

Bond prices were slipping this morning following several days of strength. They are moving higher in anticipation of a strong open for equities. The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note was down 6/32 to 99 21/32, yielding 5.797%.

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International

European markets were getting a boost from telecom, media and tech stocks around midsession, after mobile phone firm

Vodafone

(VOD) - Get Report

posted strong earnings.

As lunchtime approached across the Atlantic, the

FTSE 100

in London was rising 78.80 points to 6353.60.

Over on the continent, the

CAC-40

in Paris was 88.99 higher to 6126.72 and the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt was up 89.51 to 6831.61.

The beleaguered euro was lately trading higher at $0.8577.

Asian

equity markets ended Tuesday flat to solidly higher, as some investors went shopping for bargains following a heavy selloff Monday.

In Tokyo, the

Nikkei 225

closed down 4.6 points, virtually unchanged at 14,660. Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

index rebounded strongly, rising 361.8, or 2.4%, to 15,177.5.

In Tokyo currency trading, the dollar traded lower to 107.70 Monday. The greenback was lately trading at 107.87 yen.

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