Today's Market: Weebles Wobble, but Dow Won't Fall Down

<LI>Oil stocks glide off recent gains.</LI> <LI>Chip stocks still wobbly.</LI>
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Boing. Boing. Boing.

Like a four-year old on a pogo stick, the

Nasdaq Composite Index continued to bounce around, tottering and teetering. At midday, the technology-heavy kid was off his feet, slipping.

Meanwhile, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average was a sturdy player. The Dow was getting strength from the latest round of economic data that confirm the American economy is slowing.

Gross Domestic Product data came out this morning, showing signs that the gashouse known as the rampaging American economy was slowing. Third-quarter GDP grew 2.4%, higher than the expected 2.2% rate. Of course, that 2.2% was a revised estimate since the

Commerce Department

had last month called for third-quarter GDP to grow by 2.7%.

TheStreet.com

took a close look at the report in a

separate story .

Now what does this mean? Simply put, it means the economy isn't growing as fast as it once was. The latest GDP shows the lowest growth rate in four years. And this is a good thing because it gives more ammunition to those who would like the

Federal Open Market Committee to scale back its concerns about inflation when it next meets in mid December.

Among the blue-chips, broad happiness swept away heavy losses in

ExxonMobil

(XOM) - Get Report

, which took a drop on news that

ABN Amro

downgraded it to add from buy. Retailer

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

and jet setter

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

were the best of the brightest, beefing up the Dow.

On the Nasdaq, where volatility was king and tech issues were the wild card, semiconductors -- the chip companies that make the brains behind cell phones and computers -- were recovering.

Sure, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

has been rocked like a hurricane lately. The index is off 22% since Halloween as investors rush out of chips, fearing an industry-wide slowdown. Today, analysts rushed to defend the industry.

Well. Sort of.

Merrill Lynch

issued a report this morning bearing a telling headline: "Over-reacting?" In it, the analyst addressed concerns in the wake of

Broadcom's

(BRCM)

massive stumble over the last few days. Joe Osha, the analyst, limited comments to wireline semiconductors, which are companies that make chips for land-based telephony as opposed to wireless telephony.

Merrill wrote that wireline companies, like Broadcom,

Vitesse Semiconductor

(VTSS)

and

Applied Micro Circuits

(AMCC)

, "are further along in the process of working off inventory and resuming order growth" and that "investors have more fully factored the potential problems into stock prices."

Essentially, Merrill told investors to relax and stop the beatings.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

, which upgraded Broadcom to strong buy from outperform with a $225 price target.Bounding back, both the index that tracks the chip sector and Broadcom were up.

Market Internals

Internals over in New York were pretty good, well, positive, at least. Winners had an edge on losers. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq's collection of stocks was mostly negative -- yet again. Volume was better than it has been in recent sessions, but that's not saying very much. Action was still pretty light.

New York Stock Exchange: 1,301 advancers, 1,347 decliners, 573 million shares. 60 new 52-week highs, 87 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market: 1,314 advancers, 2,315 decliners, 1.0 billion shares. 32 new highs, 388 new lows.

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Most Active Stocks

NYSE Most Actives

  • Lucent (LU) : 15.5 million shares.
  • AT&T (AOL) : 13.4 million shares.
  • EMC (EMC) : 11.9 million shares.

Nasdaq Most Actives

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Sector Watch

Natural gassers leaked value today, with the industry-tracking

American Stock Exchange Natural Gas Index

falling 4.2% at midday. Sure, it's cold out and winter can drive the price of gas up a bit, but this index was easing a bit after gaining 8.8% over the past 10 sessions. Despite today's fall, gassers weren't too far from a 52-week-high.

Oil prices have been slipping lower over the past few days. Other pertroleum-related stocks suffered, thanks to that ABN Amro downgrade of ExxonMobil. The

American Stock Exchange Oil Index

, of which ExxonMobil is a member, was off 3.3%. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

was off 6.8%.

Gold stocks, frequent victors last week as investors sought a safe haven, were down. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold & Silver Index

was off 2.3%. As of yesterday's close, gold stocks had ramped up 13% since Nov. 17.

Outside of technology, healthcare and financial stocks were higher. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index

was the best of the bunch, rising 2.6%.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasuries are narrowly mixed following the release of stronger-than-expected data on third-quarter economic growth.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was up 5/32 at 101 11/32, bringing its yield to 5.570%.

The government revised lower its estimate of third-quarter gross domestic product to 2.4% from 2.7%. That is the slowest rate since the third quarter of 1996, but not as slow as economists were expecting. Economists polled by

Reuters

forecast a revision to 2.2%, on average.

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International

Over in Europe, stocks were taking hits, nearing the end of the trading day. And not in that mellow John Denver "Rocky Mountain High" sort of way.

London's

FTSE

was off 84.9 to 6164.9, bouncing off session lows when American markets opened, bolstered by the positive economic data. But --

sigh

-- once the Nasdaq got a hold of the red, so did the FTSE. Losses were rather steep in technology.

But on the continent, stocks were not under water anymore, just damp. France's

CAC

dropped 8.6 to 6060.65. Germany's

Xetra Dax

rose 1.11 to 6626.67.

And Japan, land of the rising sun, was land of the falling technology issue. Lately, the

Nikkei 225

has been drawing its direction from the Nasdaq, and whichever way it heads usually indicates how the technology-heavy Nikkei will fair. And after yesterday's bad day here, the Nikkei fell 151.23 to 14,507.64. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

has dropped 397.16 to 14,169.06.

In the currency market, the euro last traded at $0.8573 and the dollar fetched 111.2 yen.

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