Stocks Move Lower WIth a Few Exceptions

Stocks swung without much conviction today. Positive results from American Express buoyed the markets in the morning but the the general mood turned negative later in the day. Still, a number of hardware stocks fared well, while the broader markets moved slightly lower.

The Nasdaq lost 1.2 percent to close at 1315. The S&P 500 fell 0.8 percent while the Dow Industrials dropped 0.9 percent. Considering the strong gains over the last two weeks, most observers took the light selling as a positive sign given the fact that there was few companies reporting and little economic news today.

Technology was one of the sectors with good news. Hewlett-Packard added 4% after winning some positive comments from analysts at both Lehman Brothers and Salomon Smith Barney. Salomon’s report indicates HP’s current performance suggests earnings are tracking ahead of expectations.

Applied Material gained 4 percent, apparently recovering ground last after downgrades last week. Intel added 1 percent. IBM added 2.6% after it announced an expanded financing plan for its customers.

Not all tech stocks did well.

Brocade Communications slumped 17 percent after warning that fourth quarter results could be off as much as 30 percent from forecasts. Cisco lost 7.4 percent after a Morgan Stanley lowered his price target to $12 from $14. Cisco closed at $10.90.

Note: Paul Shread’s technical commentary will return Wednesday.

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