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Key Indexes Rise in Volatile Session; Most Stocks Decline

January 26, 2000|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Stocks careened through another volatile session on Tuesday, with the broad market finishing lower despite gains in key indexes.

The Nasdaq composite rebounded 71.33 points, or 1.7%, to 4,167.41 after diving 3.3% Monday.

The Dow Jones industrials inched up 21.72 points to 11,029.89, recouping less than 10% of Monday's 243-point slump.

Losers topped winners by 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange and by 21 to 20 on Nasdaq. Trading was down from recent peaks.

It could have ended a lot worse: The Dow had been down as much as 125 points, and Nasdaq had been off as much as 68 points, before buyers returned in late afternoon.

The wild swings of the last few weeks, after stocks' stunning gains in the fourth quarter, reflect nervousness over interest rates, corporate earnings and the still-high valuations of many shares.

Despite strong earnings reports from many blue-chip firms, the Dow is off 4.1% year-to-date. The Nasdaq index, however, is up 2.4%.

"The market is volatile because investors have a lot of questions," said Alan Skrainka, strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis. "They're wondering how aggressively the [Federal Reserve] will raise rates and whether the high valuation of stocks is justified, especially if rates are going higher."

The Fed meets next Tuesday and Wednesday, and is expected to raise its key short-term interest rate, now 5.5%, to at least 5.75%, and possibly 6%, in an attempt to slow the economy.

While the stock market has been extremely volatile in recent sessions, the bond market--which should be most afraid of the Fed--has seen long-term yields ease.

The 30-year Treasury bond yield ended at 6.63% on Tuesday, down from 6.65% Monday and down from the peak of 6.75% last week.

Among Tuesday's highlights:

* Earnings reports lifted Merrill Lynch $5.31 to $81, Texas Instruments $3 to $113.88 and American Express $6.38 to $158.38.

But Whirlpool slid $4.31 to $53.63 after its earnings report. And Procter & Gamble slid $5.38 to $97.50 after warning analysts that per-share earnings in the quarter ending March 31 will rise between 7% and 9%, less than analysts' forecasts of about 12%.

* Walt Disney soared $4.19 to $37.50. In the wake of Monday's earnings report and executive shuffle, Goldman Sachs put Disney on its "purchase" list and raised its 2000 earnings estimate to 76 cents a share from 68 cents.

Merrill Lynch raised its rating on the stock to "near-term accumulate" from "neutral," and Salomon Smith Barney raised its rating to "buy" from "outperform."

* Many major tech stocks rebounded. Apple surged $6 to $112.25, Intel gained $2.75 to $101.56, Oracle rose $2.25 to $56.44 and Cisco Systems gained $3.06 to $112.13. But Compaq fell $2 to $31 in late trading. It said it is confident about earnings in 2000 but warned the first quarter will be slow.

* Among Internet stocks, EBay jumped to $143 in after-hours trading, after rising $1.13 to $137.50 in regular trading, following earnings that exceeded expectations.

* Biogen rocketed $10.69 to $95.88 and Harley-Davidson gained $4.31 to $75.69 on news they will be added to the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

Most foreign markets closed lower. Many of them have been hit harder than the U.S. market this year. British stocks are down 7.9% year-to-date, Hong Kong shares are down 11% and Mexican shares are down 3.4%.

Market Roundup, C8

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