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Mixed trading lifts Nasdaq to record Dow index falls 18.79 on concern for profits; computer issues gain


NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks were mixed yesterday, as Microsoft Corp. and other computer-related shares lifted the Nasdaq composite index to a record, while concern about profit shortfalls sent Merck & Co. and Procter & Gamble Co. lower.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 18.79 points, to 9,009.19. Merck & Co. accounted for the entire loss after forecasting 1999 earnings that fell short of analysts' expectations.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.11, to 1,183.49.

But the Nasdaq composite rose 15.67, to 2,050.42.

The Russell 2,000 index of small-capitalization stocks edged up 0.48, to 401.96; the Wilshire 5,000 index rose 8.88, to 10,817.54; the American Stock Exchange composite index slipped 0.23, to 666.02; and the S&P; 400 midcap index added 0.09, to 359.02.

The Sun-Bloomberg Maryland index of the top 100 Maryland stocks gained 0.64, to 193.35.

Declining stocks led advancers by a 15-to-14 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange.

Volume on the NYSE yesterday was 700 million shares, below average for the fourth straight day.

Xoom.com Inc., a company that lures computer users to its site with free services and then seeks to sell them software and consumer electronics, surged $20.4375, to $34.4375, in its first day of trading. About 16 million shares changed hands, making the "E-tailer" the most active issue in U.S. trading.

Microsoft jumped $2.4375, to close at $133.625; Dell Computer Corp. rose $1.50, to $68.125; America Online Inc. climbed $2.5625, to $92.9375, and Cisco Systems added 93.75 cents, to $80.75. All were among the 10 most-traded stocks yesterday.

Intel Corp., also on that list, lost 87.5 cents, to $119.1875.

Merck fell $6.8125, to $151.875. The world's biggest drugmaker guided analysts to lower estimates for its profit in 1999 as it hires new salespeople and prepares to introduce its most important new drug.

Procter & Gamble fell $2.625, to $84.125, after Bear Stearns & Co. analyst Constance Maneaty warned that weakness in Russia and competition in Europe are hurting sales this quarter. She cut hTC her rating on the stock to "neutral" from "attractive." P&G; makes half its sales outside the United States.

Coca-Cola Co., which makes 70 percent of its sales and three-quarters of its profit abroad, lost $1.50, to $67.125. Merrill Lynch & Co. analysts said sales growth at the world's largest soft-drink company will be slow through the first half of 1999.

Chevron Corp. finished up $3.75, to $83.1875, after an Internet site that follows Dutch stocks speculated that the fourth-largest U.S. oil company may be a takeover target of Royal Dutch/Shell Group. Royal Dutch shares climbed $2.1875, to $47.3125, in U.S. trading. Chevron and Shell both declined to comment on the Net report.

AT&T; Corp. gained for a fourth straight day, rising $4, to a record $71. On Tuesday, the No. 1 U.S. long-distance company agreed to buy International Business Machines Corp.'s global communications network, which should help offset AT&T;'s slower-growing phone services.

Regional telephone stocks fell after the Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Communications Commission may block mergers between SBC Communications Inc. and Ameritech Corp., and Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp. The commission is concerned that the mergers would not serve the public interest, the report said, citing FCC staff members.

SBC fell 50 cents, to $49, and Ameritech gained 50 cents, to $56.75, erasing its loss after SBC said it expected FCC approval for the $78 billion acquisition by the middle of next year. Bell Atlantic dropped $1.875, to $56.125, and GTE declined 75 cents, to $65.25.

J. .P. Morgan & Co. dropped $2.375, to $104.1875, after the bank said its fourth-quarter operating profit will be about half of what analysts expected.

Pub Date: 12/10/98

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