Today's Market: Stocks Remain Mostly Lower in Midday Action - TheStreet

Profit warnings rocked tech land today, pushing the Nasdaq below the 4000 mark and countering the upward strides made by blue chip financials. Corporate earnings have become Wall Street's latest concern to put a damper on the economic slowdown-buying spree.

At the midday mark, it was a sellers' markets, as earnings caution surrounding several tech companies sent the major indices to the downside. The effects of

Fed's rate raising campaign appear to taking hold, cooling off the economy and corporate profits. "With little prospect that profits are going to show improvement over the next three to six months, I think more investors are becoming concerned," said Harry Laubscher, market analyst at

Tucker Anthony

.

Lately, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average was losing 45 to 11,215. Although its financial components were strong, with

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

recovering from yesterday's profit-taking, the old economy was dented by lower tech and cyclical giants

Honeywell

(HON) - Get Report

, off 5.8%, and

United Technologies

, which fell almost 4%.

On the tech front, the tech-laden Nasdaq was shedding 64 to 4035, with weakness resurfacing for semiconductors.

Speedfam

(SFAM)

, a semiconductor equipment maker, stumbled 16.3% after it warned investors that it would post a first-quarter loss. The company blamed to shortfall on a tool delivery delay.

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

has been beaten down in the last week, after analyst downgrades on tech giants

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

and

Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Report

made investors skeptical of the group future performance. Lately, the index was slipping 3.9%.

Gadzooks Networks

(GADZ)

, a storage area network company, was bringing in additional turbulence to the Nasdaq with its news that second-quarter sales would be hurt by the slower-than-expected acceptance of its Capellix switches. The warning was putting additional pressure on other members of the grodown, including

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

.

Market Internals

Breadth was negative on moderate volume.

New York Stock Exchange: 1,200 advancers, 1,442 decliners, 566 million shares. 117 new 52-week highs, 35 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market: 1,408 advancers, 2,328 decliners, 880 million shares. 67 new highs, 43 new lows.

Back to top

Most Active Stocks

NYSE Most Actives

  • Lucent (LU) : 11.9 million shares.
  • First Data (FDC) - Get Report: 11.5 million shares.
  • Citigroup (C) - Get Report: 11.4 million shares.

Nasdaq Most Actives

Back to top

Sector Watch

With money coming out of tech, it wasn't a surprise to see sector rotation underway. Retailers were looking good in the face of the decline with

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

up 2% and

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

lifting 4.5%.

And with energy prices on the rise, utility stock were looking attractive. The

Dow Jones Utility Average

was buoying up to another all-time high of 383.45, with

Peco Energy

(PE) - Get Report

also rocking up 3.7% to another high of 52 5/8.

With crude oil futures moving lower, oil stocks were losing energy. The American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index was off 1.6%. Oil investors are cooling off, on news that after Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali al-Naimi said he wants oil at $22 to $28 a barrel.

"It's the week before the OPEC meeting, so this has got the street worried about energy prices and what an impact that will have on earnings," said Peter Cardillo, investment strategist at

Westfalia

, commenting on yesterday's earnings warning from

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

. The chemical giant blamed higher raw material costs for the shortfall.

The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

shed 2.7%.

Back to top

Bonds/Economy

Treasuries are rising for the first time in four sessions, as oil gives back some of the big gains it racked down earlier in the week.

Amid an economic data drought that will last through the first half of next week, bond traders are paying close attention to the price of oil, which yesterday exceeded $35 a barrel for the first time in 10 years. Rising oil prices have the potential to cause inflation elsewhere in the economy, reducing the appeal of bonds.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note lately was up 5/32 at 100 5/32, dropping its yield to 5.731%.

Back to top

International

Back to top

European markets closed lower.

After pushing tentatively higher at the open, the

FTSE 100

turned tail as investors began taking profits in the index's two big oil stocks. The FTSE was lately down 88.50 to 660.70.

Across the channel, the

CAC 40

in Paris was off 131.10 to 6703.36, and the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt was off 107.96 to 7265.38.

The euro was lately trading lower at $0.8727.

TheStreet.com

wrote a separate piece about the

euro's woes.

Techs were partly responsible for turning around two days of losses in

Tokyo overnight, but they backhanded Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

, which ended lower.

Despite a downgrade from

Moody's Investors Services

on Japan's sovereign debt rating for the second time in two years, investors scooped up large-cap electronic shares ahead of the fiscal first-half earnings season. The

Nikkei 225

index gained 201.09, or 1.2%, to close at 16,501.55.

TheStreet.com

wrote about the Moody's downgrade in a

separate story.

With the euro struggling to gain ground, most Tokyo currency dealers were busy adjusting positions in euro/dollar positions, so they ignored the news from Moody's. The greenback fell against the yen to fetch 105.43 in Tokyo trading. The dollar was lately trading at 105.64 yen.

Traders and investors looked like they took the day off in Hong Kong, with the key

Hang Seng

index falling 156.50 to close at 17,275.45 amid extremely thin trading.

Back to top