RealTime IT News

Markets Mixed In Rough Ride

An afternoon rally Monday rescued the market from a potentially disastrous day that saw the Dow Jones fall as much as 440 points and the Nasdaq threaten to plunge below 1300.

But by the time the closing bell had rung, the Dow had erased 90% of its losses to finish down 45 points, closing at 8639, while the Nasdaq eked out a 9-point gain, finishing at 1382. The S&P 500 took a similar terror ride, falling 3.5 to 918 after being down 46 points.

Reflecting the strength of tech stocks in Monday's session, the Internet Stock Index, or ISDEX, gained 2 points to close at 105.

The early market selloff was triggered by continued investor concerns over corporate accounting scandals and the weakness of the dollar. Despite a speech by President Bush this morning in which he extolled the fundamental soundness of the economy, stocks continued to fall sharply before beginning their comeback after 2:30 p.m.

Trading began Monday with big financial news as drug giant Pfizer announced plans to purchase rival Pharmacia in a $60 billion stock deal. Pfizer, whose offer price is 38% above Pharmacia's Friday closing price, tumbled 11% to $28.78, while Pharmacia soared 20% to $39.35.

The most heavily traded stock was WorldCom , which dropped 15% to 11 1/2 cents on news that an executive for the troubled telecom notified company auditor Arthur Anderson more than two years ago that WorldCom was engaging in improper accounting practices in order to inflate profits.

Sun Microsystems was Monday's top tech gainer, rising 8% to $5.69 after the server vendor and a number of allies in the Liberty Alliance Project released the first version of technology designed to make it easier to sign onto multiple Web sites. The project, spearheaded by Sun, will compete with Microsoft's Passport authentication service.

A bullish report from Investec helped chipmaker Intel climb 6% to $19.12 in heavy trading. Investec maintained its "strong buy" rating on Intel, arguing that its worst quarter of the year was behind it.