Stocks Fade After Promising Start

A stock market rally faded Monday, as earnings worries outweighed a possible conclusion to the presidential election. Technology and Internet stocks ended the day lower on weakness in chip and networking stocks.

The ISDEX fell 15 to 445, 36 points off its high, and the Nasdaq lost 23 to 2880, turning back at 2998. The S&P 500 gained 7 to 1348, and the Dow added 75 to 10,546. Volume declined over last Wednesday’s trading levels, to 925 million shares on the NYSE and 1.69 billion shares on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by 15 to 12 on the NYSE, but decliners led by 22 to 17 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.

E-tailers fell victim to profit-taking despite the start of the holiday shopping season. eToys added 3/16 to 2, but down from an intraday high of 2 1/2. lost 15/16 to 28, well off its high of 30 3/4. A Commerce Department report said that online shopping rose more than 15% sequentially in the third quarter, but Goldman Sachs said that half of 22 e-commerce companies may not survive until the 2001 holiday season. Yahoo , off 3/4 to 40 1/8, reported that transaction volume on Friday more than doubled over year-ago levels.

Chip stocks were weak, led by weakness in Micron Technology , off 3 7/8 to 37, and Broadcom , down 19 3/4 to 97 3/8. Salomon Smith Barney lowered its price target on Broadcom based on flattening orders and inventory concerns, but said problems will be short-lived.

B2B stocks struggled on Wit SoundView downgrades to Commerce One , off 3 1/4 to 36, and Ariba , down 10 7/16 to 68. Even at these prices, Wit said the stocks do not reflect the limited opportunity for simple procurement and marketplace applications. The firm cuts it price target for Ariba to $52 and for Commerce One to $39. Investors ignored news of a Korean venture that will be powered by Commerce One. Technical note: Ariba continues to struggle around its previous breakout point of 83 1/2, with downside potential to $49.

Vignette slipped 7/16 to 20 3/8 despite a Dain Rauscher Wessels Strong Buy Aggressive rating and $100 price target.

Network Appliance plummeted 8 3/16 to 54 11/16 after EMC rolled out a competing product.

Optical and networking stocks were weak after Salomon Smith Barney cut price targets across the whole sector. Juniper lost 6 3/8 to 126, Ciena dropped 4 1/4 to 98, Corvis declined 1 3/4 to 25 1/4, and Sycamore fell 5 1/4 to 53 5/8.

Liberate added 7/16 to 14 11/16 on a Banc of America Strong Buy rating and $55 price target. Deployment of the company’s platform has been better than expected, the firm said.

XO Communications rose 11/16 to 17 5/8 on a positive mention in Barron’s.

E-Stamps climbed 1/8 to 13/32 after announcing it will exit the Internet postage business and cut employees by 30%. The company will focus on Web-based shipping and logistics.

Blue Martini slipped 3/16 to 20 3/4 on a Thomas Weisel Strong Buy rating and $100 price target, saying the company’s fundamentals remain strong.

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The Nasdaq 100 broke out of its falling wedge today (first chart), a positive sign, only to fall back within it by the close, a negative. Also, the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (second chart) is forming a large descending triangle, with downside potential all the way to 400; not a pretty picture. We’d like to see the Nasdaq hold 2850 support this time. A higher low would be a positive.

The ISDEX broke above two trendlines today, a previous support line and a downtrend line, but then reversed downward. A close above 480 could give Net stocks room to run.

The S&P 500 failed to get back above its 1994 logarithmic trendline at 1369, turning back at 1362. The index is sending mixed signals in the daily chart: it is either forming a bearish head-and-shoulders pattern, or a bullish falling wedge. A break of that upper trendline at 1350 this morning was a real positive, but the failure to recover the 1994 line is a negative. A move back below 1340 would negate the falling wedge breakout. The index must hold that lower line at about 1320.

The Dow looks good, holding critical 10,380 support, but the index is beginning to look like it’s forming a 400-point descending triangle, indicating a possible retest of 10,000. The index turned back at the upper trendline today, reinforcing the bearish pattern. A lot of mixed signals in the market today, but the patterns appear to be more bearish than bullish, and it looks like the whole market could be headed down this time. We’re entering a seasonally positive season, but it will also be warning season again soon. We’ll know soon enough which side will win out.

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