Traders Jittery Ahead Of Fed Decision

Stocks rose, fell and then rose again on Monday, as investors were jittery ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates due out Tuesday afternoon.

The ISDEX gained 10 to 775, and the Nasdaq rose 22 to 3953 to close right at its 200-day moving average. The S&P 500 added 7 to 1499, and the Dow climbed 33 to 11,079. Volume dried up to 729 million shares on the NYSE and 1.26 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 14 to 13 on the Big Board, while advancers led 20 to 19 on the Nasdaq. The Federal Reserve meets tomorrow, and the almost universal opinion is that the Fed will leave rates unchanged. For earnings reports, visit our earnings calendar and reported earnings. For after hours quotes and news, visit our new after hours trading site.

Net2Phone lost 2 3/4 to 29 5/16 after the company dismissed reports of an alliance with Cisco .

America Online gained 1 5/8 to 56 11/16 after USA Today reported that the company might not be forced to open its instant-messaging services to rivals.

MicroStrategy gained 8 to 29 on news of an alliance with IBM.

Recent IPO Evoke soared 2 13/32 to 7 7/16 on positive comments from Robertson Stephens and Salomon Smith Barney.

AskJeeves rose 1 3/8 to 20 7/8 on news that Ford will use the company’s question answering service for Ford’s e-commerce and e-support services.

VeriSign gained 6 25/32 to 166 17/32 on a Merill Lynch upgrade from Accumulate to Buy and a $210 price target. Merrill called the company’s valuation compelling compared to other Internet infrastructure companies.

BroadVision recovered 1 15/16 to 31 13/16 after losing 10% Friday on rumors that the company may lose another major contract. The company announced an alliance with Indian software services firm Mastek to build e-business applications.

Blue Martini slipped 1/2 to 64 after trading as high as 71 on news that Goldman Sachs began coverage of the recent IPO with a Recommended List rating.

Intraware gained 5/8 to 7 7/16 on news of an alliance with Documentum .

Internet security stocks Network Associates , up 47/64 to 20 1/2, and Symantec , up 5/8 to 51 1/16, gained on a Barron’s mention that the stocks trade at discounts to their strong growth rates.

Copper Mountain gained 5 1/2 to 69 1/2 on news that seven semiconductor technology suppliers have agreed to incorporate the firm’s technology into next-generation chipsets for Voice over DSL integrated access devices.

Sina.com rose 1/4 to 21 3/4 after announcing that it expects to break even in 2002, with the bulk of revenues coming from online advertising despite a small online ad market in China.

Cobalt gained 1 1/32 to 5 27/32 on news of an alliance with GE Capital Auto Financial Services.

eBay , up 1 1/4 to 56 1/4, and Yahoo , up 4 13/16 to 130, recovered from heavy profit-taking on Friday.

Some technical comments on the market: Once again, a rally looks like it could be about to fizzle. The boundaries of the recent uptrends in the S&P 500 and 100 indexes are beginning to converge, suggesting that this rally may be losing steam. A decline below 1490, where the index found support today, could carry the S&P 500 back to the 1450-1460 range. The S&P 500 is just below a downtrend line (1506) extending from the 1553 and 1517 peaks, and the S&P 100 turned back at its recent high (820) this morning. As we’ve noted before, this rally has been l

argely unconvincing, as volume has been low, follow-through rallies have barely met the minimum requirements, and there have been at least a few days of institutional selling. Volume and breadth could improve from here, but the market is more likely to go back and do it again until it gets it right. The Nasdaq is right at its 200-day moving average (just above 3950), but as we noted on Friday, this so far has looked like a pretty weak crossing attempt. Interesting to note that the Nasdaq struggled in the 3982 range this morning, the peak from late April/early May; no one has a longer memory than the guy or gal who’s losing money.

The Nasdaq may be forming a bearish flag pattern in the daily chart since bottoming at 3521 two weeks ago, giving the index potential for more downside, as much as 600 points. A break below 3800 would be a warning sign. However, a flag pattern has at most three weeks to form, so if the Nasdaq can avoid a sell-off for the rest of the week, we have some hope here. Don’t expect much of a rally out of the Fed meeting, barring a return to a neutral bias on future rate hikes, since the market seems to have already priced in no change in rates or outlook. The ISDEX also may be forming a bearish flag pattern here, signaling potential further downside on that index. Key resistance is now around 800, the lower boundary of a broken bearish rising wedge. Support on the ISDEX is at 693-700, 650 and 600; a break below 700 would just about break the bearish flag pattern. The Dow needs to stay above the 10,950 area to preserve the upside breakout of the diamond formation, and so far it has done that. Resistance on the Dow is just under 11,200. One other item of note: London’s FTSE-100 may also be forming a bearish diamond pattern.

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