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Today's Market: Nasdaq's Annus Horribilis Continues, Comp Ends at Year's Low

The Dow also ended lower, dragged down by Microsoft and J.P. Morgan.
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Festivus when you need it?

Thanksgiving's over and so is the giving mood that had the major indices rallying Friday and the Dow up yesterday.


Dow Jones Industrial Average was volatile all day, while the

Nasdaq Composite Index pretty much declined throughout the session and closed at its low point for the year.

Jim Benning, trader at

BT Brokerage

, attributed the slide in the major indices to this morning's weaker-than-expected

durable goods orders

report which indicated that the pace of economic growth is slowing. It fell 5.5%, which was its biggest drop in three months. An average forecast among economists polled by


was for a 1.3% decline.


the report in an earlier story.

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While Benning maintained that the durable goods report was the leading factor today, he also said continuing concern about the election was definitely not having a positive effect.

Meanwhile, most semiconductors continued to fall today after getting slammed yesterday by a series of lowered ratings and EPS views. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was down 8.1%.



, which was downgraded by

Wit Soundview

yesterday, was off 7.8% and


(ALTR) - Get Altair Engineering Inc. Report

which saw its earnings outlook lowered by

Lehman Brothers

, was off 5.2%. But


(XLNX) - Get Xilinx Inc. Report

, which was also lowered by Lehman, was rebounding earlier, but slid again and was down 1.3%.

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Benning said, "There's concern that if we do go into recession, there will be a lot less spending in technology."

There was plenty of evidence of negative sentiment in tech stocks today.



, which has dropped more than $130 in the month of November to trade within $10 of a 52-week-low, announced that it was acquiring Israeli chip supplier


for 7.96 million shares of its stock, valued at $776.6 million based on Monday's closing price of $97.56. The acquisition will become the core of a new Broadcom unit, called

Broadcom Israel

. The news from Broadcom coupled with a cut to its earnings outlook yesterday didn't sit well with investors. The stock was knocked down $12.50 to $85.06.

And it wasn't just the Nasdaq getting hit by tech stocks. On the

New York Stock Exchange,

Merrill Lynch's

influential analyst,

Jerry Labowitz

, slashed numbers and ratings on electronic-components makers

Vishay Intertechnology

(VSH) - Get Vishay Intertechnology Inc. Report



(AVX) - Get AVX Corporation Report



(KEM) - Get KEMET Corporation Report

. Vishay plummeted 21.3%. AVX lost 15.7%. And Kemet, which was halted in early trading, sunk 19.6%.


Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

was down today on a note from

Salomon Smith Barney's

Richard Gardner that said PC inventory levels are high and demand is lagging. The note singled out



as having relatively high U.S. retail inventories. Gardner said he was skeptical


(DELL) - Get Dell Technologies Inc. Class C Report

would make its targeted fourth-quarter revenue growth and that


(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report

might fall short of its revised guidance for fourth-quarter earnings.

Also, blue-chip behemoth


(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

declined $3.69 to $67. Yesterday, the software giant asked an appeals court to throw out a lower court's ruling that would break up the company, saying it wasn't a monopoly and hadn't violated antitrust laws. It stuck the Dow with 22 negative points.

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get JP Morgan Chase & Co. Report

was weighing heavily on the Dow after

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown

raised some concerns about its merger partner

Chase Manhattan's


fourth-quarter earnings. Alex. Brown said the bank could miss estimates because of a drop in the value of publicly traded securities in its investment portfolio.

One industry Benning said he was surprised to see in the red was transports, especially airlines. He said with oil prices down, airlines should be rallying. The

American Stock Exchange Airline Index

was 1.9% lower. Benning said he believes oil prices have peaked, and since oil prices are a very big chunk of operating cuts, that should be favorable for airlines.

Market Internals

Breadth was wretched on moderate volume.

New York Stock Exchange: 1,148 advancers, 1,687 decliners, 1.028 billion shares. 87 new 52-week highs, 97 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market: 1,080 advancers, 2,932 decliners, 1.895 billion shares. 31 new highs, 511 new lows.

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Sector Watch


Nasdaq Biotechnology Index

dropped 5.7%. Most components were dragging, including

Cima Labs


, down 8.8%;



, off 8.5% and


(VRTX) - Get Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated Report

, 14.9% lower. Internet Sector

index, which tracks the industry, was off yet again, falling 8.6%. This was the eighth day of losses in the previous nine sessions. So far in November, the

dot-com index has closed higher in just four sessions. Component



was down 7.9%. Earlier the stock hit a two-year low amid concerns of industry-wide slowing advertising revenue.

Also, the sector got socked by

(AMZN) - Get Inc. Report

, which fell 10.6% after three different analysts advised caution about Amazon's future.

SG Cowen

said the outlook for fourth-quarter sales is still unclear, while competition has increased in the sector and online advertising spending has trailed off.

Banc of America

said Amazon's 2001 growth rate would slow considerably. And while

Dain Rauscher Wessels

advised that shipping costs could be a company concern, it upped its estimates for Amazon's fourth-quarter sales.

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Treasuries are mixed but mostly higher in response to weaker-than-expected economic data.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was up 11/32 at 101 7/32, dropping its yield to 5.587%.

Orders for big-ticket items and consumer confidence were both surprisingly low in reports released today.

Durable goods orders


definition |

chart |


) fell 5.5%, compared to an average forecast among economists polled by


for a 1.3% decline. A 15.8% drop in orders for transportation equipment was largely responsible; still, the growth rate for durable goods orders slipped to 1.4%, the slowest in nearly two years.

Meanwhile, the

Consumer Confidence Index


definition |

chart |


) dipped to 133.5 in November, the lowest since October 1999. The index had been forecast to rise to 135.9.

The sluggish economic data is giving Treasuries a boost --the shortest-maturity issues in particular -- by fostering hope that the

Fed will lower interest rates. At the

Chicago Board of Trade


fed funds futures were discounting about a 70% chance that the Fed will lower the rate to 6.25% from 6.5% currently by the end of the first quarter. Yesterday, the futures were discounting even odds of such a move.

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Over in Europe, markets were sour, like a carton of milk in a dorm room fridge. London's


was off 125 to 6250. Paris


dropped 102 to 6069, while Germany's

Xetra Dax

slipped 71 to 6626.


(VOD) - Get Vodafone Group Plc Report


British Telecom


were two of the worst London stocks, after news hit that phone watchdog group


was launching an investigation into some new industry practices.

And in currencies, the euro last traded at $0.8563, while the yen was at 110.16.

And Asian markets, well, Asian markets were weak. Japan's

Nikkei 225

slid 62 to 14,659, as investors sold off following yesterday's nice run up. Lately, the Nikkei's been drawing a lot of its direction from moves on America's technology-laden Nasdaq Composite Index.

The Hong Kong

Hang Seng

dipped 37 to 14,566. Steep losses in telecom weighed down the index, while banking and property concerns swung to the upside.

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