Computer stocks fall in mixed trading Interest-sensitive shares rise on optimism about long-term rates

NEW YORK — NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks were mixed yesterday as semiconductor and computer shares fell, erasing early gains. Chemical and banking issues rose amid optimism about lower interest rates.

For technology shares, yesterday's activity mirrored a pattern set earlier this week. The stocks tumbled for a stretch Wednesday amid concern about third-quarter profits, then reversed course and gained yesterday as investors bet technology companies would post the biggest earnings gains this quarter.


The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.44, to 4,789.08, after rising to a record 4,816.54, eclipsing its previous intra-day high of 4,815.2 two weeks ago. For the week, the 30-stock average rose 0.52 percent, and yesterday's gain helped it register a 5.11 percent gain for the third quarter. It was the worst performance since last year's fourth quarter, when it fell 0.22 percent.

Yesterday, shares of United Technologies Corp., Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co. and DuPont Co. rose. Caterpillar Inc., Boeing Co. and McDonald's Corp. fell.


The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.46, to 584.41, after reaching a record high of 587.61 shortly before midday. Yesterday's drop was the index's fifth decline in seven days. In addition to software, computer and semiconductor issues, shares of long-distance, retail and auto issues fell.

The Nasdaq composite index fell 3.51, to 1,043.54, after rising 4.34 points earlier. The index is down from its record high of 1,067.4 Sept. 13. A 20.78-point gain yesterday was its third-biggest gain in history and its largest advance since its 23.54-point gain April 5, 1994.

About two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 335 million shares changed hands. The three-month daily average volume on the Big Board is 341 million shares.

Among broad market indexes, the Russell 2000 index of small capitalization stocks rose 1.92, to 310.38; the Wilshire 5,000 index, comprising stocks on the New York, American and Nasdaq stock exchanges, dropped 1.06, to 5,806.63; the Amex market value index gained 0.44, to 544.72; and the S&P; 400 midcap index fell 0.22, to 215.7.

Yesterday's most active stocks in U.S. composite trading were Intel, Hollywood Entertainment Corp., Starbucks Corp., Micron Technology Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Bank stocks gained as bond prices gained. A drop in bond yields cheered some investors who bet that lower interest rates would let lenders' profits expand.

Shares of First Interstate Bancorp rose $1.25, to $100.75; Bank of New York Co. rose $1, to $46.50; and National City Corp. spurted 37.5 cents, to $30.875; First Bank System Inc. climbed 87.5 cents, to $48.125; and Suntrust Banks Inc. gained 37.5 cents, to $66.125.

Chemical stock profited from expectations that lower interest rates would fuel and economic rebound and drive demand for plastics and chemicals, analysts said. The S&P; chemical index of 10 stocks rallied 1.85, to 291.36, but closed below its record high of 304.7 Sept. 14.


DuPont Co.'s shares rose $1, to $68.75; Great Lakes Chemical Corp. jumped 25 cents, to $67.625; W.R. Grace & Co. climbed 50 cents, to $66.75; and Imperial Chemical Industries Plc's American depositary receipts rose 25 cents, to $50.75.

Shares of semiconductor companies fell after NexGen Inc. late yesterday said it expects that earnings in the quarter ending Sept. 30 will be worse than expected because prices for its chips have fallen. NexGen's stock fell $1.875, to $18.75.

Among technology issues, shares of Intel Corp. fell $1.75, to 60.125; Cisco Systems Inc. dropped $1.875, to $69; Applied Materials Inc. slid $2.375, to $102.25; Hewlett-Packard Co. dropped $2.25, to $83.375; and Xilinx Inc. fell $2.375, to $48.125.

The Dow Jones utilities average of 15 stocks fell 0.46, to 214.28.