Today's Market: Stocks Mixed in Early Action, PC Makers Under Pressure - TheStreet

Today's Market: Stocks Mixed in Early Action, PC Makers Under Pressure

<LI>PC sector lower after Prudential cuts estimates on IBM and Dell.</LI><LI>AOL down after report of FCC delay on merger.</LI><LI>Union Pacific, American Standard warn.</LI>
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The market's off to an uncertain start today, with a bit of selling after yesterday's reasonably strong session. Overseas markets were mixed, and the major indices started action mixed.

In early action, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 7 to 10,798, the

Nasdaq Composite was up 24 to 2566 and the

S&P 500 was up 4 to 1333.

The PC sector is under fire this morning.

Prudential Securities

cut revenue estimates on PC-makers

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

this morning, thanks to weakness in PC sales.

Prudential cut fourth-quarter revenue estimates for IBM to $24.5 billion from $25.3 billion. IBM was down 2.5% to $82.50. Pru trimmed its revenue estimates for Dell to $8.29 billion for the quarter from a previous estimate of $8.38 billion. Dell was off 2.1% to $17.63.

Mostly, investors want this year to be over with. The

Nasdaq Composite Index, barring a strong two-day rally, is on track for its worst performance since it was created in 1971, although sentiment has turned in the last couple days. There's a growing feeling that the

Federal Reserve will soon cut interest rates, which would at least provide a psychological boost to investors. Interest-rate cuts, however, won't eradicate existing problems within the stock market, such as the reduced demand and credit issues currently plaguing a number of companies.

Another loser in early action was

America Online

(AOL)

, drifting lower after the

Wall Street Journal

reported in its online edition that the

Federal Communications Commission

is going to take a little more time before approving its proposed merger with

Time Warner

(TWX)

. AOL was lately down 2.9% to $34.60.

Other bellwether technology stocks were weakening, as well.

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

and

Lucent Technologies

(LU)

were both flagging in early trading.

A couple of earnings warnings from S&P 500 companies have hit the Street since yesterday's close. Last night,

Union Pacific

(UNP) - Get Report

, the nation's largest railroad company, said it planned to cut 2,000 jobs and take a charge of 26 cents a share in the fourth quarter.

American Standard

(ASD)

also issued a warning this morning, saying it would cut its work force by 1,200 nationwide.

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Bonds/Economy

The bond market was quiet this morning. Lately, the 10-year bond was down 4/32 at 104 22/32, yielding 5.124%. Initial jobless claims fell to 333,000 for the week ended Dec. 16, down from a revised 356,000 the previous week. The four-week moving average dropped to 340,750, down from the prior week's 347,750.

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International

Currency trading extended recent trends. The euro strengthened against the dollar as perception of economic strength continues to shift toward Europe, while the Japanese yen dropped to a 16-month low against the greenback, on further concerns of economic weakness in Japan. The euro lately traded at $0.9296, while the dollar/yen was lately at 114.73.

Shares in Germany and France were stronger at midsession, while the U.K. was weaker. Paris'

CAC-40

gained 33.81 to 5890. By contrast, London's

FTSE

was lately off 7.4 to 6211, and Frankfurt's

Xetra Dax

was up 4 to 6332.

Asian stocks were mixed. Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

ended the day up 48.19 at 14,796.55, while Tokyo's

Nikkei 225

slipped 34.53 to 13,946.96.

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