(Updated from 4:21 p.m. ET)
It was a split decision in the markets today, as bellwether
buoyed tech stocks and economic data weighed down the
Cisco was one of the major plotlines in today's market. Starting from before the opening bell, when a
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
analyst upgraded the company, to the close, when Cisco ended the day as the most-actively traded
Nasdaq stock -- it dominated much of Wall Street's action.
The company, which posted earnings that beat analysts' lowered estimates by a penny, gained 5.9% to $20.38, on volume of more than 160 million shares, at the close of the regular session. That was three times as much as the next most actively traded issue,
, and represented 9% of the total shares traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Cisco slipped 2.4% from the 4 p.m. close to $19.90 in after-hours
Much of the attention that Cisco received was due to the fact that it was releasing earnings this afternoon, but it also got a nice pop from Morgan Stanley analyst Christopher Stix, who upgraded the company to
market outperform from neutral.
"Investors are looking for forward-looking statements from
Cisco CEO John Chambers -- they are looking for his take on the general health of the economy, as well as capital expenditures for the year to come," said Dan Ament, associate vice president at securities firm
The Cisco move helped out the
American Stock Exchange Networking Index
, which gained 1.9%, but didn't have a massive effect on either the Nasdaq Composite Index or the Dow Industrials.
The Dow ended with a loss of 51.66 points to 10883.51, making this the second-straight day of losses since the average hit its highest close in three months on Friday. Unlike yesterday, the Dow never threatened the 11,000 barrier. The trio of
J.P. Morgan Chase
accounted for much of the loss, but overall weakness in the Dow didn't help.
were the notable winners. Big Blue gained $1.94, or 1.7%, to $117.70, while the picture people gained $1.04 or 2.2%, to $47.80.
Early in the morning, investors were selling stocks partly in reaction to first-quarter productivity and unit labor costs data. Productivity fell 0.1% in the first quarter, well below the expected 1.2% rise and the 2.2% growth in the fourth quarter. Unit labor costs rose 5.2% in the first quarter, much higher than the 4.4% economists expected and well above the previous quarter's 4.3% uptick. Low productivity and higher labor costs aren't good for companies since they indicate increasing costs. As profits decline, businesses have been working to keep costs down.
Cisco wasn't the only networker in the news. Networking-equipment maker
signed a contract to supply optical switching and transport systems for
global communications network. The two-year agreement is initially valued at more than $150 million. Ciena climbed 11.4% to $61.60 at the close of regular trading, while TyCom fell 0.7% to $16.15.
Technology was split down the middle. Biotechs, large-cap tech, telecommunications, semiconductors and dot-coms ended on the plus side of the tape, while disk drive peripherals, boxmakers and wireless names ended in the red.
led the boxmakers lower after it said yesterday that it was
on target to meet its earnings forecast. But the company also announced job cuts. It fell 4.2%, while the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Sector
Breadth on both the Nasdaq and NYSE improved throughout the day, recovering after an early morning sell off. Volume never picked up, though. The NYSE failed to crack a billion shares traded, while the Nasdaq came in around 1.8 billion.