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Today's Market: Selling Intensifying at Midday; Nasdaq Continues to Slide

J.P. Morgan, Johnson & Johnson and 3M have been the Dow's big laggards today.
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Woes that emerged last week -- rising oil prices, a falling Euro and corporate profit warnings -- to frame the market's narrative, continue to spin today's yarn. As a result, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average -- down 65 to 10,862 -- was sinking lower in afternoon trading. Technology stocks, which posted modest gains early this morning, were also down. The

Nasdaq Composite Index -- was behind 93 to 3742.

The broader market, meantime, was not faring any better, with the

S&P 500 lately down 13 to 1453.

The

Russell 2000 was off 11 to 520, while

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

had fallen 27 to 777.

Bottom line: "The market's nervous," says Matt Johnson, head of Nasdaq trading at

Lehman Brothers

. "The market has moved into negative territory for the year and people are starting to protect their money and pull out of big-cap stocks."

Adding to investors' jitters today, says Johnson, is today's 3 p.m. EDT

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

meeting with analysts. Despite Goldman Sachs' influential analyst, Rick Sherlund's, reiteration of his market outperform rating on Microsoft, the stock was lately down 2.4%.

In his report, Sherlund noted that the software giant does not have plans to preannounce results "as business appears to be tracking in line with expectations." Sherlund said that, "Microsoft remains comfortable with our revenue and earnings per share estimates of $5.65 billion and 41 cents for the September quarter." Nonetheless, market observers may be concerned about a pre-announcement this afternoon.

Putting the most pressure on the Dow was

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

, which had taken some 31 points off the index. After rallying on the news of its takeover by

Chase Manhattan

(CMB)

, the investment house was lately trading down 4.2%.

Also hurting the Dow was diversified manufacturer

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

), which had knocked about 15 points off the index. The stock has been declining since the beginning of this month.

Consumer product

Gillette's

(G) - Get Report

earnings outlook today took its stock lower 6.3%.

Gillette warned that third-quarter results would be only slightly up from the year-ago report, citing weak European currencies and problems at its Duracell unit. Last week,

Edward Jones

sliced its rating on the consumer giant to hold from a buy.

Market Internals

Breadth was downright lousy today on pretty heavy volume.

New York Stock Exchange: 754 advancers, 1,969 decliners, 544 million shares. 81 new 52-week highs, 86 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market: 972 advancers, 2,842 decliners, 896 million shares. 50 new highs, 112 new lows.

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Most Active Stocks

NYSE Most Actives

  • AT&T (T) - Get Report: 12.5 million shares.
  • Nortel (NT) : 12.1 million shares.
  • Lucent (LU) : 11.2 million shares.

Nasdaq Most Actives

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Sector Watch

Following a downgrade of

Delta Airlines

(DAL) - Get Report

by

Goldman Sachs

and

Salomon Smith Barney

,

The American Stock Exchange Airline Index

was lately down 2.5%.

The firms' analysts cited higher fuel costs and competitive challenges. Goldman cut its 2000 earnings estimate to $7.40 from $7.80, while Salomon lowered third-quarter earnings to $2.00 form $2.10.

After a huge run-up sparked by merger mania in the financial sector, brokers were on the skids with The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

shedding 4.4%.

Lehman Brothers

(LEH)

, which has been tagged as a possible takeover target, was losing 5.5%, while

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

was stumbling 5.5%.

The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index

was down 1.5% after trading lower Friday. Component Micron

(MU) - Get Report

TST Recommends

was bouncing 2.6% on an upgrade from Lehman Brothers.

The

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

hit a new all-time high of 557.54, with gains from

ExxonMobil

(XOM) - Get Report

and

Chevron

(CHV)

. The group continues to be pushed higher amid rising oil prices. It was lately up 2.1.

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Services Index

was also off, down 2.9%, with

Halliburton

(HAL) - Get Report

down 2%.

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Bonds/Economy

The disinversion of the Treasury yield curve was continuing, with the 30-year Treasury bond's yield now higher than the five-year note's for the first time since January.

It's happening because Treasury prices are mixed. Long-maturity issues are lower in price, causing their yields to rise relative to those of the short-maturity issues, which are little changed.

This continues a trend that emerged last week based on two key assumptions: first, that the

Fed is through hiking interest rates, and may even cut the

fed funds rate in the next several months if rising energy prices cause economic growth to slow too much. Investors typically push up long-term yields relative to short-term ones when they expect the Fed to take action to stimulate economic growth.

Second, Election Day could spell the end of the policy of using federal government surplus funds to pay down the national debt by buying back mainly long-maturity Treasuries from investors, which inflates their value relative to shorter-term Treasuries.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note lately was down 5/32 at 99 3/32, making its yield 5.873%.

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International

European markets

ended mostly lower today as the

Nasdaq's recent slide helped pull down stocks.

The

FTSE 100

spent the day performing a timid dance in and out of positive territory and, despite a brief foray into the black during the afternoon, it closed the day down 7 points at 6410

Across the channel, the

CAC 40

in Paris was down 92.3 to 6522.4 and the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt was down 80.1 to 6920.

The embattled euro was lately trading higher at $0.8527.

Asian markets got quite a beating today.

Japanese stocks were hit by light profit-taking ahead of the close of the fiscal first half, while Korea got pummeled amid ongoing troubles at

Daewoo Motor

.

Japan's

Nikkei 225

index shed 152.12 to close at 16,061.16,

In Tokyo currency trading, the greenback fell slightly lower against the yen to fetch 107.02. It was lately trading at 106.8.

Korea's market sentiment deteriorated after U.S. auto giant

Ford

(F) - Get Report

last week said it was pulling out of its planned buyout of troubled Daewoo.

The key

Kospi

index dropped 50.64, or 8.1%, today to close at 577.56. Ford's pullout could pave the way for rivals

DaimlerChrysler

(DCX)

and

Fiat

(FIAT)

to come back into the game and negotiate with Daewoo. However, until a concrete deal has been made, foreign investors are fleeing Seoul for now, traders said.

Among the hardest hit in Seoul were

Hanvit Bank

and

Daewoo Securities

.

Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

index fell 689.37, or 4.2%, to stand at 15,560.16, largely on concerns over higher oil prices and the weakness in the euro. The index falling below its 250-day moving average of 15,800 also triggered massive technical selling, traders said.

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