Stock Sell-off Continues Unabated

A Florida court ruling that could hand the presidential election to Texas Gov. George W. Bush gave stocks a brief boost Friday morning, but sellers immediately reasserted themselves.

The ISDEX dropped 19 to 510, and the Nasdaq lost 35 to 2996. The S&P 500 declined 11 to 1360, and the Dow fell 54 to 10,601. Volume surged to 528 million shares on the NYSE and 872 million shares on the Nasdaq. Breadth was even on the NYSE, but decliners led 19 to 14 on the Nasdaq. For earnings reports, visit our earnings calendar and reported earnings. For after hours quotes and news, visit our after hours trading site.

It was Commerce One’s turn to fall apart, losing 5 11/16 to 47 5/8 on rumors of weak sales. The company denied the rumors, but it was enough to break an uptrend stretching all the way back to April. Merrill Lynch and UBS Warburg defended B2B stocks, but investors weren’t in much of a mood for buying.

Technology and Internet leaders continued to lead to the downside. Broadcom lost 13 to 131 1/2. The stock has downside potential to 125 or lower, and got as low as 127 13/16 today. Ariba fell 2 1/2 to 75 3/8, a day after falling back below its June breakout point of 183 1/2; today’s high was 183 5/8. Possible support points are 70 and 60, but the stock has room to 49. Juniper Networks lost 9 1/2 to 152 1/4, and could be headed as low as 120.

Nortel Networks , off 2 1/4 to 32 3/16, continued to get hit by worries about weakness, as did Corvis , off 5 3/4 to 33 1/4. Ciena , up 2 1/16 to 99 3/4, gained after taking some of Qwest’s business away from Nortel.

Ziplink , halted at 13/32, became the latest in a string of dot-com companies to go out of business. The company said it will not return any proceeds to shareholders.

Agile Software plummeted 11 15/16 to 51 15/16 despite beating estimates by a penny with a 1-cent loss. VA Linux added 15/16 to 12 15/16 after matching estimates with a 15-cent loss. Broadbase Software lost 3 1/4 to 10 3/4 on an earnings warning.

Akamai rose 7/8 to 42 15/16 on a partnership with IBM.

VeriSign lost 10 11/16 to 107 1/4 after China’s Ministry of Information said no organization could provide services or act as an agent for Chinese-language domain-name registration without prior approval, casting doubt on the firm’s registration service launched last week. , off 5 3/4 to 83 5/8, is set to merge with after shareholders vote today.

PSINet lost 11/32 to 1 21/32 on news that the company’s CEO would have to sell as much as 11 million shares to cover a margin call.

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Not even a court decision that could end the Florida election deadlock helped stocks today. The Nasdaq 100 broke another bear flag to the downside this morning, and failed to get above yesterday’s breakdown at 3000. We’ll watch what develops here, but the bearish pennant breakdown two days ago gives the index downside potential to the 2500-2750 range. The Nasdaq 100 has a gap to fill at 2836 and the Nasdaq at 2966; both indexes came just short of those numbers today, which

makes us think another leg down this afternoon is a possibility. Given that leaders like Ariba, Broadcom and Juniper are rolling over, the outlook is not positive.

The ISDEX continues to form a potential broadening bottom. A break above the top line at 680 would mean a bottom is in, and give the index room to 850. A nice looking chart, but be on guard for a possible retest of that lower trendline at around 500, which we came close to today.

We continue to watch the S&P 500’s 1994 logarithmic trendline at 1369. If we close below that line by more than 2%, or 1335, we may have seen the end of the bull market. The index has repeatedly come close to a major technical breakdown over the last month or so, but has somehow escaped from the abyss each time. The bull is wobbly, but still standing.

The Dow may be forming a small head and shoulders top here, with a neckline around 10,550. However, the index will continue to have a bullish posture as long as it stays above 10,369. First major resistance is 10,850, the old diamond apex, and critical resistance is 11,000, where the index has failed five times.

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