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MARKET SAVVY

Most Shares Move Up Even as Indexes Slide

May 21, 1999|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Major stock indexes say the market turned lower Thursday, but that wasn't the experience of most investors.

The majority of stocks rose again despite continued weakness in some of the blue-chip standbys.

Though the Dow Jones industrials slipped 20.65 points to 10,866.74, winners topped losers by 17 to 12 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Nasdaq composite slid 1.4%, but winners beat losers there too, by 23 to 17.

"It's a rotation from the old leaders into a broad list of stocks," said Edmund Cowart, a money manager with Banc One Investment Advisors in Columbus, Ohio.

"Money isn't leaving this market," but rather is looking for new ideas, said Larry Wachtel, a market analyst at Prudential Securities.

Analysts say that could be a healthy sign for the bull market, although investors in the old leaders--names like Microsoft and Wal-Mart--probably wouldn't agree. Microsoft fell 88 cents to $78.44 on Thursday; Wal-Mart lost $1.19 to $44.50.

In the bond market, yields were mostly steady as traders continued to weigh the prospects for a Federal Reserve interest rate hike sometime down the road.

The 30-year Treasury bond yield edged up to 5.83% from 5.80% on Wednesday.

Fed policymakers on Tuesday voted to adopt a "bias" toward raising short-term rates in the future, depending on the economy's strength and inflationary pressures.

If the economy is going to stay strong, that could mean more pricing power for some industrial companies.

On Thursday, paper and forest products stocks rose after Morgan Stanley Dean Witter raised earnings estimates for the group.

Morgan Stanley now expects Georgia-Pacific, for example, to earn $1.63 a share this quarter. That was raised from an estimate of $1.40. G-P stock jumped $1.56 to $91.44, though it has pulled back from a recent peak of $99.25.

Other paper stocks rising included Weyerhaeuser, up $1.69 to $68.75, and Bowater, up 63 cents to $53.94.

Among Thursday's highlights:

* Industrial stocks were mixed even as paper shares jumped. B.F. Goodrich gained $1.69 to $43.50 and Nucor rose $1.63 to $54, but Dow Chemical fell $2.94 to $124.06 and Alcoa slid $2.69 to $58.31.

* Some utility stocks continued to rise. Enron gained $1.06 to $74.06 and Duke Energy added $1.06 to $58.06.

* Drug stocks got a lift on fresh merger rumors. Warner Lambert rose $1.69 to $68.69, Merck jumped $1.75 to $72.25 and Pharmacia Upjohn surged $1.44 to $56.

* Many health-maintenance organization stocks advanced for a second day after California's largest public pension fund said it would sharply boost payments to HMOs in 2000. WellPoint Health jumped $3.63 to $80, United Healthcare leaped $6.75 to $66.63 and Aetna rose $2.25 to $98.

* On the downside, major tech stocks tumbled anew. Intel dropped $2 to $57.69, Apple lost $2.69 to $42.50, America Online gave up $5 to $129.50 and Dell slumped $1.56 to $38.25.

* Energy shares rebounded as crude oil inched up. Mobil rose $1.38 to $99.38, Baker Hughes rose 81 cents to $29.50 and Total gained $1.56 to $62.69.

* Nike soared $3.81 to $64 after Goldman Sachs reiterated its "recommended list" status for the stock. Rival sneaker maker K Swiss also gained, jumping $2.63 to $47.38.

* As investors hunted for opportunities outside the pack of recent market leaders, some less well known shares advanced.

Winners included wheelchair maker Sunrise Medical, up $1 to $7.75; manufactured housing firm Fleetwood Enterprises, up 88 cents to $26.19; auto parts maker Dana, up $2.25 to $52.06; and retailer Piercing Pagoda, up $1.81 to $12.63.

In foreign trading, Latin American markets were mixed after sliding Wednesday. Mexico's main share index jumped 1.2% after the government said retail sales grew in March, defying expectations of a decline.

Market Roundup, C9

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