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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>

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) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report



(DELL) - Get Dell Technologies Inc Class C 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

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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


, 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


. AOL was lately down 2.9% to $34.60.

Other bellwether technology stocks were weakening, as well.

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report


Lucent Technologies


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 Union Pacific Corporation 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


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

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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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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'


gained 33.81 to 5890. By contrast, London's


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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