Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services

Drop in tech stocks
leaves market mixed

NEW YORK >> Stocks ended a volatile session mixed yesterday as late-day bargain-hunting erased earlier declines, helping the Dow Jones industrial average recover from an intraday loss of more than 160 points.

A series of negative factors piled on to discourage buyers -- until prices fell so low that some investors decided to place a few bets.

Worries about interest rates, inflation, the situation in Iraq and uncertainty about what effect it might have on the presidential race, and the psychological impact of seeing the Dow drop well below 10,000 made for an "ugly" day on the market, said Bill Groenveld, head trader for vFinance Investments.

"Why should the buyers step up here now?" asked Groenveld. "Why try to catch a falling knife? They have much more room to push down. And I don't see as many fund managers or institutional investors being pro-active in a rising rate environment. ... Everybody is in a really reactive stage right now."

The tech-dominated Nasdaq composite index fell 5.76, or 0.3 percent, to 1,925.59, after advancing nearly 2 percent on Tuesday. Still, the index closed well off its lows, having declined more than 2.5 percent earlier in the day.

The other gauges ended fractionally higher, bouncing back from steep declines. The Dow added 25.69, or 0.3 percent, to 10,045.16, coming back from a loss of 167.28. The Standard & Poor's 500 index ended up 1.83, or 0.2 percent, at 1,097.28. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, was up 0.32, or 0.1 percent, at 548.99.

Advancing issues slightly outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 2.1 billion shares, compared to 1.91 billion shares traded Tuesday.

Although the major indexes had mostly recovered by the end of the session, low volume suggests many large investors are staying out of the market. At least some may be awaiting key inflation data -- the producer and consumer price indexes -- due later this week.

The price of the Treasury's 10-year note was down 13/32 point, while its yield rose to 4.80 percent from 4.75 percent Tuesday. Two-year Treasury note prices were unchanged, but their yield rose to 2.58 percent from 2.57 percent Tuesday.

Investors once again ignored upbeat news, this time strong earnings from Cisco Systems Inc. and a bright forecast from Qualcomm Inc.

Cisco Systems closed down 29 cents at $21.96, despite a jump in quarterly profits as governments and businesses ratcheted up capital spending.

Qualcomm shed 82 cents to $63.90, although it raised its forecast for the quarter and the year on improved orders for its mobile phone chips.

General Electric Co. finished 15 cents higher at $30.40 after its NBC unit closed its acquisition of Vivendi Universal's entertainment business.

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