Nasdaq drops as technology issues slump; Rate, inflation worries fuel decline, but Dow increases 96 points


NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks were mixed yesterday, careening through a volatile session marked by continued concern about rising interest rates and inflation. Technology stocks fell sharply, bearing the brunt of investors' pessimism.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 96.57 to close at 10,116.28. Most of the gain occurred in the final 30 minutes of trading. Earlier in the session, the Dow was up as much as 108 points and down as much as 43 points from Friday's close.

The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 6.72 to 1,254.13, but the Nasdaq composite finished down 42.68 at 2,689.15 after paring a 99-point loss. The Nasdaq has shed 226 points from its closing record of 2,915.95 last week.

The Russell 2,000 index, a benchmark of small-cap stocks, slid 4.91 to 408.90; the Wilshire 5,000 index added 9.40 to 11,456.00; the American Stock Exchange composite index fell 2.51 to 774.49; the New York Stock Exchange composite index climbed 3.45 to 579.62; and the S&P; 400 midcap index skidded 5.55 to 369.50. The Sun-Bloomberg Maryland index of the top 100 Maryland stocks slumped 3.40 to 178.05.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 7-to-4 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where about 818.7 million shares changed hands.

Analysts said that after driving the blue chips down last week, investors were ready to focus their worries on the Nasdaq's technology stocks.

"Nasdaq is where the average investor is," said Barry Hyman, senior equity analyst at Ehrenkrantz King Nussbaum in New York. "Most people yesterday have Intel, Microsoft, Dell in their portfolios, and their losses are piling up."

Intel Corp. fell $1.50 to $69.375, Microsoft Corp. slipped 18.75 cents to $87.875 and Dell Computer Corp. lost $1.50 to $41.3125. The Nasdaq's highflying Internet stocks posted mixed results, with eBay Inc. off $4.625 at $129.50 and Yahoo! Inc. up 75 cents to $170.3125.

Traders said the Nasdaq was ready for a fall after outperforming the Dow in recent weeks. At the close of trading yesterday, the Nasdaq was up 22.6 percent this year, while the Dow was up 10.2 percent. The Dow is 10.7 percent below its Aug. 25 record close.

Many analysts had expected investors to seek buying opportunities after the Dow's loss of 630.05 points, or 5.9 percent, last week.

An optimistic forecast from Abby Joseph Cohen, chief market strategist at Goldman Sachs & Co., helped the Dow rally. A longtime bull, Cohen told clients yesterday that the market's recent skittishness is unwarranted, in light of potentially strong profit growth.

J. P. Morgan & Co. led the Dow's rally, rising $7.3125 to $113 after reporting third-quarter profit of $2.22 a share, beating the average estimate from analysts of $2.15.

Hewlett-Packard Co. dropped $4.50 to $78.25 and was the biggest decliner in the Dow average.

Citigroup Inc. gained $1.5625 to $43.6875. The biggest U.S. financial services company, one of the 30 Dow members, said it earned 70 cents a share in the third quarter, beating the 68-cent average estimate of analysts.

Ford Motor Co. rose $1.50 to $52.0625 after the world's second-largest automaker reported third-quarter earnings of 90 cents a share, a nickel higher than estimates, on strong U.S. truck sales and cost-cutting that overcame weakness in South America.

Xerox Corp. fell $3.625 to $23.8125 after the world's biggest copier maker said third-quarter profit fell for the first quarter in three years as more competition slowed sales.

Comair Holdings Inc. jumped $5.0625 to $23 after Delta Air Lines Inc. said it will buy the 78 percent of the No. 1 U.S. regional airline it does not already own for $1.8 billion in cash to expand its network.

Separately, Delta said its fiscal first-quarter profit fell 11 percent as it lost business to Hurricane Floyd and paid more for fuel. The company earned $1.96 a share, beating estimates by 5 cents, and its stock rose 25 cents to $50.375.

Lexmark International Group Inc. plunged $28 to $65 and had the second-biggest percentage loss on the New York Stock Exchange. The world's No. 2 maker of ink-jet and laser printers said its fiscal fourth-quarter profit will be at the low end of analysts' estimates because of higher costs and a production bottleneck.

Overseas indexes were mostly lower, feeding on last week's troubles on Wall Street. Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 1.9 percent, Germany's DAX index fell 0.5 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.6 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 0.6 percent.

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