Stocks Begin October On Down Note

Internet and technology stocks began the storied month of October on a down note, but blue chip issues fared better.

The ISDEX lost 30 to 722, and the Nasdaq fell 103 to 3568. The S&P 500 slipped a quarter of a point to 1436, but the Dow rose 49 to 10,700. Volume declined to 1.02 billion shares on the NYSE and 1.76 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by 16 to 12 on the NYSE and 27 to 14 on the Nasdaq. The National Association of Purchasing Management survey showed economic contraction for the second month in a row. The big economic report for the week is Friday’s unemployment report. The Federal Reserve meets tomorrow, but it’s probably the most anti-climactic meeting in years: no action is widely expected. For earnings reports, visit our earnings calendar and reported earnings. For after hours quotes and news, visit our new after hours trading site.

i2 Technologies lost 16 5/16 to 170 3/4 on a double whammy: the company’s head of technology sales is leaving to join a private B2B exchange. And the trading exchange formed by i2, Ariba , off 14 1/4 to 129, and IBM lost The Global Health Care Exchange as a customer. Commerce One fell 6 to 72 1/2, and PurchasePro lost 5 7/8 to 82 despite an alliance with Gateway .

BroadVision , off 3 13/16 to 21 7/8, and E.piphany , off 18 1/2 to 58 9/16, fell on Robinson Humphrey downgrades on sales concerns. Also, the firm said BroadVision miscalculated the market shift to Java-based technology.

Bellwether Cisco Systems gained 1/4 to 55 1/2, but off its high of 59, on positive comments from Morgan Stanley. The company’s order backlog has increased more than 300% to $3.8 billion.

Yahoo continued to struggle under the weight of earnings concerns, losing 4 1/4 to 86 3/4. The company reports next Tuesday (Oct. 10).

CAIS Internet climbed 3/16 to 5 1/16 on the launch of a co-branded portal with MSN.

WebMD dropped 1/8 to 15 1/8 on a Banc of America downgrade from Buy to Market Perform.

Ramp Networks fell 1 1/2 to 2 1/32 after warning of lower-than-expected results due to DSL deployment delays and slower-than-expected roll-outs.

America Online added 1 1/2 to 55 1/4 on optimism from Lehman Brothers that the company’s merger with Time Warner will be improved.

Portal Software lost 6 1/4 to 33 3/4 despite announcing a deal with WorldCom’s UUNET division.

Primus Knowledge Systems fell 3 7/8 to 10 15/16 during the day and warned after the bell that its revenues will not meet estimates, citing delays in closing some transactions.

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:

The Nasdaq broke critical support today, its October 1998 trendline (the black line). We’ll give it one more chance before throwing in the towel: if the Nasdaq can form a new October 1998 trendline at about 3400-3450 (the gray line), on a line with the October 1998 low and the May low, the index could bottom there. Lower than that, and the index will likely retest the May lows of 3042. It’s not exactly comforting that the index set a new lower low in this down c

ycle today. To the upside, a move above its downtrend line at about 3750 could give the Nasdaq room to run. The ISDEX also broke critical support, its May uptrend line at about 735. Next support is 693-700, and then 650. To the upside, first resistance is now 735, then 750-760, and then the 787-800 range. Above that, two recent rallies have peaked around the 50% retracement level at 850.

The Dow’s downtrend line is at about 10,825; above that line, and the old economy stocks 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 continues to be bound by its April trendline (the black line) at about 1425 to the downside and its broken May trendline (the gray line) at about 1465 to the upside.

The one sign of a potential bottom here, the inverse head-and-shoulders pattern forming in the 60-minute chart on the S&P 100 (OEX), is still developing. However, the index can’t trade much lower than 760 to preserve the pattern (it went as low as 759.12 today), and the bottom should not be considered formed until the index breaks above the pattern in the 772-773 range.

Recession indicator update: The 10-year and short-term treasury yields have now been inverted for two months, a phenomenon that has presaged a recession 86% of the time within six months since 1960. Given that the last 50-basis point Fed rate hike is just beginning to hit, the economy could be in for a significant slowdown in the first half of 2001.

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