NEW YORK -- Stocks closed mostly lower yesterday as investors took profits from Wednesday's hefty jump in prices and looked nervously ahead to the government's employment report today.
Yahoo! Inc. led Internet shares higher after the world's largest Web directory topped third-quarter profit forecasts as it attracted more users and advertisers.
"You've got a tug of war between the bulls and the bears -- they think the earnings are going to be good -- but you've got Mr. Federal Reserve sitting over there," said Don Hays, investment strategist at First Union Capital Markets in Nashville, Tenn. "The jobs number is the near-term catalyst."
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 51.29 to 10,537.05 after alternating between small gains and losses. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 7.76 to 1,317.64.
The Nasdaq index rose 3.49 to 2,860.70 after giving up a 29-point gain that left it within one point of its Sept. 10 closing record.
Elsewhere on the broad market, the Russell 2,000 index, a benchmark of small-cap stocks, slid 1.65 to 428.11; the Wilshire 5,000 index dropped 56.80 to 12,035.80; the American Stock Exchange composite index lost 3.07 to 784.36; the New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 3.29 to 606.61; and the S&P; 400 midcap index declined 1.92 to 387.94.
The Sun-Bloomberg Maryland index of the top 100 Maryland stocks gained 0.26 to 189.44.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a margin of about 7-to-5 on the New York Stock Exchange, where about 807.8 million shares traded.
Yahoo jumped $14.50 to $190.25 after reporting that third-quarter net income more than tripled on higher advertising revenue and increased customers.
Amazon.com Inc. rose $4.875 to $87.3125, and CMGI Inc. advanced $7.9375 to $113.625.
BMC Software Inc. dropped $6.375 to $63.625 after the computer-management software maker said profit for the second quarter that ended Sept. 30 will be 40 cents to 42 cents a share, at the low end of analysts' estimates of 40 cents to 45 cents.
Global Crossing Ltd., which is building a worldwide phone and data network, gained $3.6875 to $32.1875 amid speculation that BellSouth Corp. may seek to acquire the company after losing in the bidding for Sprint Corp.
Chipmakers and semiconductor equipment makers fell as the price of standard chip products declined. Texas Instruments Inc. lost $4.375 to $87.9375, Micron Technology Inc. dropped $7.125 to $69.625, and Applied Materials Inc. declined $4.3125 to $82.4375.
Dell Computer Corp. rose $1.0625 to $44.375 after Chairman Michael Dell said the biggest direct seller of personal computers would not face significant parts shortages from last month's earthquake in Taiwan, where many semiconductors and other computer components are made. Dell advised analysts not to change their earnings estimates.
Financial stocks, reflecting more nerves about interest rates, were mostly lower, including Chase Manhattan, down $1.375 at $74.5625, and Bank of America, down $2.1875 at $56.6875.
American Home Products rose $3.625 to $48.75 after the drugmaker agreed to a $3.75 billion settlement over its diet pill fen-phen.
Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. New York shares, each representing one ordinary share, fell $1.25 to $59.125; Exxon Corp. lost 87.5 cents to $73.125; Texaco Inc. shed $1.0625 to $60.9375; and Chevron Corp. declined $1.8125 to $85.8125.
Zomax Inc. rose $2.5625 to $34.0625 after the provider of marketing and other services to software and computer companies said third-quarter earnings will beat estimates.
Excite@Home Corp. rose $1.50 to $48.0625. America Online Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Case said the company has a "continuing dialogue" with the high-speed Internet access provider. Case's comments followed speculation that Excite@Home could sell its Web content business to AOL, which closed down $1.50 yesterday at $118.50.
Metromedia Fiber Network Inc. rose $1.625 to $32.875 after Bell Atlantic Corp. agreed to buy up to a 19 percent stake in the fiber-optic network developer for about $1.68 billion and purchase $550 million of Metromedia's fiber-optic capacity over the next 20 years. Bell Atlantic ended down 25 cents at $66.4375.
JDA Software Group Inc. fell 81.25 cents to $10.5625. The maker of retail-management software said third-quarter earnings would not meet estimates because software-licensing revenue slipped. The company expects to break even or earn 1 cent a share, compared with analysts' average forecast of 3 cents.
Capital Re Corp. rose $2.375 to $12.4375 after the bond insurer became the target of a bidding war between Bermuda insurers XL Capital Ltd. and Ace Ltd. Capital Re said after exchanges closed Wednesday that it got an unsolicited offer from XL Capital for $12.50 a share, a 24 percent premium, or $456.5 million. That topped a bid from Ace for $10.28 a share, or $375.3 million, which Capital Re had accepted.
UBid Inc. rose $7.9375 to $40.5625. The operator of an online auction has a new agreement with the Go Network, part of Walt Disney Co., for Go Network to power UBid's auction site.