Split Decision

Both the Dow and Nasdaq jumped to early gains at the opening and then drifted lower in midday trading. Both markets staged rallies in late afternoon and the Dow finished higher for the day while the Nasdaq rally was too little too late, leaving the tech-heavy index slightly underwater for the day.

The ISDEX (ISDEX) was essentially flat, down just five-and-a-half points and 1.5% lower, closing at 371. Lagging stocks led leaders by two to one. Among the top performers, four stocks gained more than nine percent:

Faced with the daunting challenge of scoring three winning days in a row for the first time since before labor day, the Nasdaq Composite Index, slipped 23.5 points to lose one percent for the day, dropping back below the psychological 2500 level, to 2494. A tepid, late rally could not overcome the long, midday slide. In contrast, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the broader S&P 500 Index found sufficient afternoon interest to post gains for the day. The Dow was up 57 points to close at 10692, a gain of half of one percent while the S&P 500 rose just more than nine points to hold above the 1300 level at 1315.

If the Nasdaq doesn’t regain last week’s late strength, it seems destined to turn the “tech wreck ” of 2000 into the worst year in Nasdaq history. Standing now at 38% in the red, it needs to pick up more than three percentage points in three days to avoid exceeding 1974’s -35% debacle.

Trading volume was one of the lightest days of the year, and even well under Friday’s pre-holiday session. Total volume was under a billion shares on the NYSE, at just 802 million shares, and just 1.6 billion on the Nasdaq. On the NYSE, advancing shares rallied to overtake decliners by a margin of five to three by session’s end. Conversely, on the Nasdaq, decliners led advancers by nearly the same margin. On the NYSE, up volume exceed down volume by about three to two and, on the Nasdaq, just the opposite, down volume led up volume by about nine to five.

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Despite the downward bias on the Nasdaq, four stocks were ahead by a third or more:

  • In the absence of any new company news, Blue Martini Software (BLUE), an e-commerce software and services provider, advanced 50.0%, benefiting from the Barron’s effect after the company received a favorable mention in the weekend financial paper.

  • Norsat International (NSAT) rallied late in the day to post a gain of 33.7%. The company, which designs, engineers and markets premium products for use in the satellite wireless communications industry, said that it has signed a letter of intent with one of China’s leading telecommunications service providers to supply an end-to-end satellite broadband network consisting of a SpectraWorks DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) Data Hub, a DVB Return Link Subsystem (RLSS), and one-way and two-way
    Ku-band Satellite Broadband Terminals. The broadband network, all to be delivered in 2001, is valued at more than CDN$25 million.

  • Meade Instruments (MEAD), bucked last week’s reported lower-than-expected

    results for the third quarter and rose 36.6%.

  • Infogrames’ (IFGM) new Bugs Bunny & Taz Time Busters game, on the PlayStation game console, arrived in stores this week. The stock gained 33.7% on the day.

In other news, Yahoo (YHOO) reported that holiday sales within its affiliate shopping areas showed multiple increases, jumping nearly two-fold in the U.S. and better than six times overseas. On the news Yahoo stock jumped about four-and-a-half dollars, but slipped during the session to close ahead just one-and-five-eights as some analysts discounted the large sales gains because they represented only a small portion of Yahoo’s revenue model, which still more heavily dependent on ad revenues. The announcement also spurred some interest in other Internet retailers such as Amazon (AMZN) which rose 8.8% for the day.

Note: Technical market commentary will return tomorrow, Wednesday, December 27, 2000.

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