RealTime IT News

Greenspan Douses Intermeeting Rate Cut Hopes

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan threw cold water on traders' hopes for another intermeeting rate cut on Wednesday, sending stocks lower.

The ISDEX http://www.wsrn.com/apps/ISDEX/ lost 8 to 279, and the Nasdaq declined 43 to 2163. The S&P 500 dropped 17 to 1240, and the Dow fell 146 to 10,490. Volume rose to 480 million shares on the NYSE, and 880 million on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 16 to 12 on the NYSE, and 22 to 10 on the Nasdaq. For earnings reports, visit our earnings calendar at http://www.wsrn.com/apps/earnings/internet.xpl and reported earnings at http://www.wsrn.com/apps/earnings/ireported.xpl. For after hours quotes and news, visit our after hours trading site at http://www.afterhourstrading.com.

Greenspan took a more cautious tone toward the economy than he did in his optimistic testimony two weeks ago, but he left the impression that the Fed will likely wait until the March 20 meeting before cutting rates again. The Fed funds futures dropped hopes of an intermeeting rate cut on the news, but are still pricing in a 100% chance of a 50 basis point cut on March 20.

Altera , off 1/16 to 23 5/16, issued an earnings warning that hit other communications chip companies hard. Broadcom fell 4 7/16 to 49 3/16, PMC-Sierra dropped 3 5/8 to 34 5/16, and Applied Micro lost 2 13/16 to 27 1/2.

Amazon.com lost 1 3/8 to 10 3/8 on rumors that the company may file for bankruptcy protection. The rumors were disputed, but it didn't stop traders from believing them.

Avanex plunged 4 to 19 15/16 on an earnings warning. Juniper fell to a new 52-week low at 57 1/2, but recovered to trade down 15/64 to 62 5/8 on a CE Unterberg Towbin comment that the stock was fairly valued based on 2001 estimates of $1.08. Cisco rose 5/16 to 24 5/16, but was turned back at its previous support of $25.

Yahoo found buyers, rising 11/16 to 24 1/8.

B2B stocks continued to come under pressure. Ariba slipped 7/16 to 16 13/16, i2 lost 13/16 to 26 3/4, and Commerce One declined 1 3/16 to 17 11/16.

Even Check Point Software , one of the strongest Net stocks, lost ground, falling 6 1/16 to 67 7/16.

Some technical comments on the market: Note: We are now including charts in the technical market commentary. If you can't get the charts via the e-mail newsletter version, try this link: http://www.afterhourstrading.com/column.html

The S&P 500 broke out of bear flag or pennant yesterday (first chart), but is so far holding support at 1235. Interestingly, if you measure that pattern from the February 21 consolidation, you get a downside target of 1235; if you measure it from 1320, where the index began a straight shot down, you get a target of 1160-1170, so we'll set 1235 as critical support. The index could still find support around the recent lows of 1215-1220, but 1235 seems like a good line in the sand to us. To the upside, the S&P must get back above 1275, the early January low and the September downtrend line (both levels in the second chart below).

The Nasdaq is holding around its previous lows of 2150, but looks pretty weak to us. 2050 is the next strong support below that, and should produce a rally of some substance if we get that low. To the upside, there are absolutely no buyers north of 2300; hopefully they'll step in so