Fed, Earnings Worries Send Stocks Skidding

Stocks headed sharply lower Tuesday on a hawkish policy statement from the Federal Reserve, which left interest rates unchanged. Rumors that IBM will warn and disappointing sales forecasts from Oracle also weighed on stocks.

The ISDEX lost 33 to 689, and the Nasdaq fell 113 to 3455. The S&P 500 fell 9 to 1426, but the Dow rose 19 to 10,719 on strength in cyclical issues. Volume declined slightly to 1.01 billion shares on the NYSE, but rose to 1.94 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by 15 to 13 on the NYSE and 25 to 15 on the Nasdaq. The big economic report for the week is Friday’s unemployment report. For earnings reports, visit our earnings calendar and reported earnings. For after hours quotes and news, visit our new after hours trading site.

B2B stocks, one of the few pockets of strength in the Internet sector the last few months, continued to fall victim to profit-taking. i2 Technologies , off 17 7/8 to 152, continued to fall on yesterday’s revelations that the company’s head of technology sales is leaving to join a private B2B exchange, and that the trading exchange formed by i2, Ariba , off 15 1/16 to 112, and IBM lost The Global Health Care Exchange as a customer. Commerce One dropped 14 1/8 to 58 7/16 on a Jefferies downgrade to Hold from Accumulate.

Primus Knowledge Systems plummeted 6 1/8 to 4 3/4 after warning that its revenues will not meet estimates, citing delays in closing a half-dozen transactions. V-ONE , down 3/4 to 1 11/16, also warned, as did Preview Systems, off 4 1/16 to 5 3/16.

NetCreations gained 1/2 to 11 7/8 on news that it will be acquired by DoubleClick for about $12.15 a share in a stock deal. DoubleClick fell 3 1/4 to 26 3/8. Fellow e-mail marketer Netcentives gained 2 1/8 to 11 1/8.

Avici gained 3 5/8 to 84 on news of an alliance with Qwest . Nortel slipped 9/16 to 61 13/16 on a 10-year, $1.4 billion contract with Cable & Wireless. Bellwether Cisco Systems recovered 11/16 to 56 3/16, but down from a high of 59 3/8.

Yahoo fell 1 15/16 to 84 1/8 after trading as high as 90 3/4. The company reports earnings next Tuesday.

China.com slipped 11/16 to 11 5/8 despite announcing that it expects to meet estimates for the third quarter.

Netopia rose 13/16 to 10 5/8 on a Kaufman Brothers Strong Buy rating. Interwave climbed 15/16 to 8 11/16 on a Salomon Smith Barney Buy rating and $65 price target.

Corel soared 2 to 5 11/16 after announcing an alliance with Microsoft’s .Net initiative.

Amazon.com fell 7/8 to 35, where it has found support repeatedly since breaking out of a falling wedge at that level in August.

Some technical comments on the market: Note: We will now be including charts with the technical market commentary; just click on the links in the story below to go to them. If you have trouble accessing the charts via the e-mail newsletter version, try this link: http://www.afterhourstrading.com/column.html

Both the Nasdaq (falling wedge) and S&P 100 (inverse head and shoulders) negated their attempts at a bottom today. The Nasdaq has one more chance to find a bottom here, and then our best guess is that the bottom will be 3000 or lower. So where can the Nasdaq find support? Only if it can redraw its October 1998 trendline at 3400. Lower than 3400, and the bulls are in trouble. To the upside, the Nasdaq needs to get above its downtrend line at about 3700 to have any room to run. The ISDEX also broke critical support yesterday, its May uptrend line at about 735. The ISDEX turned back at 735 today, so that’s now first resistance after the 700 area. Next support is 650, then 600, and then the May low of 560.

The Dow broke above its downtrend line at around 10,750 today, but then closed back under it. If the index can get above 10,900, the cycle of lower highs will be broken and the old economy stocks could have room to run. To the downside, critical support is the October 1998 trendline at about 10,600 (also in the chart, note the gray lines, the bearish diamond pattern that could signal a market top). The S&P 500 is once again below its April trendline (the black line). The index could still find support at last week’s 1420 low, or on a line with its February low at about 1407, but any bottom at this point is going to have to be manufactured. To the upside, resistance can be found at the broken May trendline (the gray line) at about 1465.

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