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MARKET SAVVY

Even on an Off Day, Nasdaq Is Up

March 11, 2000|From Times Wire Services

Stocks were mostly lower Friday as the consumer products sector, already trampled by Procter & Gamble's disappointing earnings forecast, slipped further Friday on a similar warning from Dial. Tech stocks fell as investors cashed in some gains from the sector's recent surge.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 81.91 points, or 0.8%, to 9,928.82, capping a volatile week in which it slid 4.2%.

The Nasdaq composite index fluctuated its way to a gain of 1.76 points to 5,048.62, eking out another record close. For the week it rose 2.7%.

Broader stock indicators were mixed. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 6.62 points, or 0.5%, to 1,395.07.

So far this year, Nasdaq has gained 24% while the Dow has fallen 13% and the S&P 500 has dropped 5%.

Dial's warning came in the wake of Tuesday's announcement by Procter & Gamble that earnings will miss expectations, which sent the Dow tumbling almost 375 points.

"Another consumer products company stubbed its toe and now buyers are wary of anything in the blue-chip sector," said Alan Ackerman of Fahnestock & Co.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by an 11-8 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange.

Treasury yields rose on speculation that reports next week will show retail sales picked up and inflation accelerated, boosting expectations that the Federal Reserve will keep raising interest rates until the economy slows. The benchmark 30-year yield rose to 6.17% from 6.15% the day before.

Among the equity highlights:

* Dial plunged $3.25 to $11 on Friday's news. Procter & Gamble slipped an additional $4 to $53.75, bringing its decline to 39% since its Tuesday bombshell.

* Some tech investors were collecting their gains from Nasdaq's dramatic rise past 5,000, the benchmark it closed above Thursday for the first time. Internet incubator CMGI fell $8.94 on Friday to $136.44. Software maker Oracle lost $2.38 to $81.63.

But Qualcomm climbed $9.13 to $136.13 amid speculation that it might start selling chips to No. 1 cell-phone maker Nokia.

Other tech gainers included JDS Uniphase, the leading maker of fiber-optic equipment, up $3.50 to $276, and Motorola, which rose $11 to $175 after Merrill Lynch and Warburg Dillon Read repeated "buy" ratings on the stock.

* Financial shares, which have been punished by interest rate fears, gained from bargain hunting. Dow member American Express rose $3.94 to $126.69.

* Oil stocks fell on expectations that OPEC will step up production, Dow Jones reported. Exxon Mobil slipped $3.41 to $77.03 and Chevron eased $2.88 to $80.38.

* Qwest Communications tumbled $7.75 to $52.75 and US West sank $6.13 to $70.38 after Deutsche Telekom ended talks to buy them.

* In the initial public offering market, HomeGrocer.com (ticker symbol: HOMG), an online seller of groceries and other consumer products, rose $2.13 to $14.13, good but not great by current IPO standards.

* Plug Power jumped $30.63 to $149.75. The maker of electricity generation systems will supply fuel cells for a home heating and power system that will be produced by a German appliance maker and sold in Europe by General Electric.

* Wendy's International rose $1.13 to $16.06 as the fast-food chain said sales at U.S. restaurants open at least a year rose 4.1% in February.

*

Market Roundup, C4

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