RealTime IT News

Investors Hope Rate Cut Worth Wait

Blue-chip stocks gained ground while tech and Internet issues retreated Monday, but the serious money sat out today's session as wary investors waited for the Federal Reserve's rate cut decision on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones advanced 16.46, or 0.15 percent, to 10837.77. The Nasdaq shed 25.51, or 1.21 percent, to 2081.92 (its fourth consecutive down day). Both saw their lightest trading volume day of 2001.

The broad-based Standard & Poors 500 ticked up 3.24, or 0.26 percent, to 1248.91. Meanwhile, internet.com's Internet Stock Index Internet Stock Index surrendered 9.55, or 3.75 percent, to 245.42.

Among active stocks (again, a relative term today), networker Cisco , data storage giant EMC and semiconductor leader Intel dipped.

So did Palm and Handspring , which saw their share price targets slashed by Leman Brothers. Analysts at the investment bank cited slowing demand and increasing price pressures for their action against the handheld computer makers.

Meanwhile e-infrastructure software maker BEA Systems , optical switch manufacturer Cienna , and database developer Oracle enjoyed modest advances. Other sectors, such as financial services, also showed some signs of life.

Not all gains were paltry. HS Resources , a San Francisco oil and natural gas concern, jumped 20 percent on word that it is being acquired by Kerr-McGee in a $1.3 billion cash and stock deal.

But overall, most traders held their positions. Market watchers expect government policy makers to cut interest rates a half-point to 4.0 percent to jump start the stalling economy, despite a recent report showing strong consumer spending.

Already Alan Greenspan has nipped 2.0 percent off the rate this year, which sparked brief rallies, did not return the economy to the fast track.

The announcement should come around 2 p.m. (eastern daylight time). If the the cut comes in as expected, it should prop up markets, at least in the near-term. But anything lower will leave investors feeling that sitting out today wasn't worth the wait.