Today's Market: J.P. Morgan Boosting Dow at Midday; Tech Bouncing Back - TheStreet

Today's Market: J.P. Morgan Boosting Dow at Midday; Tech Bouncing Back

After yesterday's mostly gloomy session, the stock market has a much better tone today.
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Tech stocks snatched up some modest gains during the first half of the trading session, while earnings fears continue to plague the sector. And, while a bull run for J.P. Morgan (JPM) - Get Report was giving the Dow Jones a charge, the blue-chip index remained just a bit higher, with scattered losses coming from several of its largest components.

With the warning period in full swing, investors are becoming increasing skeptical of third-quarter earnings reports. With the effects of

Greenspan's rate-raising campaign starting to take hold, the economy is starting to exhibit signs of a slowdown, which could put a lid on technology growth. And with high energy costs clamping down on the bottom line of big industrials like

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

, buyers aren't sure where to put their cash.

"The tape feels a little heavy. I think there's a lot of indecision in the market right now. Technology is the biggest concern, and unless tech can give customers a reason to get back in and buy the group, you could have pressure on the tape going forward," said Patrick Boyle, director of trading at

Credit Suisse First Boston

.

At the midday mark, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was tipping toward the upside 21 to 11,217, with J.P. Morgan fueling the index with more than 38 points to the positive. Merger speculation has put the investment bank, which was up 3%, to a new all-time high level of $176.

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

was losing almost 2% after yesterday's news that it was negotiating a possible acquisition of

PriceWaterhouseCooper's

consulting division.

The tech-laden

Nasdaq was climbing 53 to 3949. The index was enjoying a relief rally following yesterday's losses which stem from a Wall Street analyst's concerns that Big Blue

IBM's

(IBM) - Get Report

third- and fourth-quarter revenue would be hurt by currency exchange rates.

"It's a kind of mixed reflex rally on the Nasdaq side, but really no conviction, said Tony Cecin, manager of Nasdaq trading at

U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray

. "And a go-nowhere day on the Dow. We're still seeing some pressure in some segments of technology and people might be starting to fixate on what the third-quarter numbers might look like. "

Today,

PRI Automation

(PRIA)

, a semiconductor equipment manufacturer, was the latest tech to issue a fourth-quarter earnings warning. The company, which plummeted 40%, cited supply chain problems in its factory systems unit as the culprit.

On the broader tech front,

The Street.com Internet Index

was bouncing 18 to 816, with

Check Point Software

(CHKP) - Get Report

ahead 5.8%.

Elsewhere, the broader

S&P 500 was mounting 5 to 1494, while the small-cap

Russell 2000

was slightly higher, up 2 to 535.

Brokers, in general, were finally falling lower a little today, after experiencing an amazing recent surge in prices. Consolidation in the industry sparked buying in the sector, as investors try to get on board the next possible takeover target.

"We're starting to see profit-taking in brokers for first time in three weeks," said Boyle, who also noted that banks, which have held steady, could come under pressure ahead of this week's Fed-watched

Producer Price Index

and

Consumer Price Index

.

The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

was 1.5% lower, after hitting a new all-time high level of 708.76. The index has run up 13.6% in one month.

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Bank Index

was off slightly, with

Chase Manhattan

(CMB)

falling almost 2%.

Market Internals

Breadth was mixed on moderate light volume.

New York Stock Exchange: 1,282 advancers, 1,361 decliners, 573 million shares. 144 new 52-week highs, 40 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market: 1,947 advancers, 1,779 decliners, 856 million shares. 77 new highs, 46 new lows.

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Most Active Stocks

NYSE Most Actives

  • Lucent (LU) : 20.6 million shares.
  • Nortel Networks (NT) : 14.5 million shares.
  • AT&T (T) - Get Report: 9.9 million shares.

Nasdaq Most Actives

  • Cisco (CSCO) - Get Report: 24.9 million shares.
  • WorldCom (WCOM) : 21.8 million shares.
  • PRI Automation (PRIA) : 17.8 million shares.

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Sector Watch

The

Dow Jones Utility Average

was stepping back slightly after it, too, hit another intra-day high of 399.02. Spiking energy prices shot

Duke Power

(DUK) - Get Report

to another all-time high of $83.75, while

Peco

(PE) - Get Report

topped to $56.75.

The

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

jumped to a new all-time high of 548.79 before falling fractionally lower. Yesterday, oil stocks soared following OPEC's decision to raise output by 800,000 barrels per day. The increase wasn't enough to drive down the price of oil, which hit $35.85 a barrel.

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

also hit a new high of 143.98, before tapering off 1%. Due to the high price of oil, companies are increasing their capital spending budgets in order to extract more oil, giving oil services companies even more business.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasuries are narrowly mixed on little news. With no major economic releases on the calendar, bond traders are keeping an eye on oil, which is lower so far, and on the corporate bond calendar, which is unusually heavy. Heavy corporate bond issuance can put pressure on Treasury prices.

A couple of

Fed

governors have piped up at the

National Association for Business Economics

conference underway in Chicago, but their comments largely cancel each other out.

Uber-dove

Robert McTeer

, president of the

Dallas Fed

, in an interview in today's

Wall Street Journal

, raised the specter of interest-rate cuts, assuming that energy prices peak and the inflation rate declines.

But

Chicago Fed

president

Michael Moskow

in comments to reporters this morning said the risk of too-high inflation is still greater than the risk of too-slow growth. Neither McTeer nor Moskow is a voting member of the

Federal Open Market Committee this year.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note lately was down 4/32 at 99 23/32, lifting its yield to 5.789%.

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International

European markets headed into the close mixed, as they tried to catch up with yesterday's Nasdaq selloff.

The

FTSE 100

ended 26.50 lower to 6555.50.

Across the channel, the

CAC 40

in Paris was finished up 22.79 to 6697.80, and the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt was still off 71.43 to 7143.02.

The euro was lately trading lower at $0.8615.

TheStreet.com

recently wrote a separate piece looking at the

euro's woes.

Asian markets added to their Monday losses overnight.

Tokyo traders cautioned that it has room to fall as investors hurry to book profits before their fiscal first-half books close at the end of September. The

Nikkei 225

index shed 90.67 to close at 16,040.23.

The greenback barely budged against the yen in Tokyo trading to 106.21. The dollar was lately trading at 106.28 yen.

Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

index fell 378.20, or 2.2%, to close at 16,629.78 as investors opted to close out positions before a public holiday Wednesday. Index heavyweights got pummeled, including

Pacific Century Cyberworks

(PCW)

, down HK$0.50, or 4.0%, to 12.15 ($1.56) and

China Mobile

(CHL) - Get Report

down 1, or 1.7%, to 58.

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