Stocks posted slight gains today, although blue chips fell, as investors bought shares of companies that had upbeat results and unloaded those adding to the market's earnings apprehension.
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A government report showing the economy at its weakest in eight years sparked light selling, as did worse-than-anticipated results from JDS Uniphase.
Analysts said the muted response reflected how accustomed investors have become to bad news, given the dismal second-quarter earnings of recent weeks. They also said the market was reassured by indications that that the outlook for semiconductor stocks could be improving.
Broader Indexes Advanced
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 38.96 at 10,416.67, according to preliminary calculations, cutting short a two-day winning streak.
Broader stock indicators advanced. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 2.89 to 1,205.82, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 6.11 to 2,029.07.
For the week, the three indexes made little progress, despite a massive selloff Monday and Tuesday that sent the Dow down 335 points. The Dow ended the week off about 1.5 percent, while the other two indicators fell by less than a percent.
"There's no catalyst on the earnings side short-term to give us a strong headwind, so we're stuck," said Robert Harrington, co-head of listed block trading at UBS Warburg. "The only good thing I can say it that the negative news is not bringing the whole market down."
Investors continued to pore over earnings reports, looking for indications of where business is headed.
JDS Uniphase was pummeled, falling 95 cents, or 10 percent, to $8.55, after reporting a wider-than-expected quarterly loss and warning of revenue shortfalls ahead. The optical networking company also announced 7,000 more job cuts — bringing the total for the year to 16,000, or more than half of its staff.
Dow’s Losses Concentrated
The Dow's losses came from a handful of stocks, including technology bellwethers Intel, which fell 61 cents to $29.22, and Microsoft, which was down $1.14 at $65.47. DuPont, which released disappointing results early in the week, also suffered, falling $1.06 to $42.13.
The news was better in semiconductors, a technology subsector whose recovery is considered a precursor to any technology turnaround. Investors sent LSI Logic up $1.70 to $20.85 after the company said it expects business to bottom out in the current quarter.
But Wall Street had little reaction to a Commerce Department report released Friday that showed the economy slowed to a 0.7 growth rate this spring, the worst performance in eight years, as businesses cut investment spending by the largest amount in nearly two decades.
"There was some relief that the number wasn't negative … that we're not in a recession, and we're closer every day to interest rate cuts helping the economy," said Barry Hyman, chief investment strategist at Ehrenkrantz King Nussbaum.
Still, most companies remain unable to say when business will improve. That inability has translated into uncertainty on Wall Street that has kept many investors on the sidelines. The three major stocks indexes, the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500, have all made little progress since mid-April.
Also today, US Airways dropped 89 cents to $17.26 after the Justice Department said it would fight to block its proposed merger with United Airlines on the grounds it would "reduce competition, raise fares and harm consumers." UAL, United's parent corporation, fell 29 cents to $33.63.
Advancing issues led decliners nearly 4 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to nearly 1.02 billion shares, compared with 1.21 billion Thursday.
The Russell 2000 index fell 0.06 to 485.01.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.5 percent. In Europe, Germany's DAX index climbed 1.4 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 rose 2.2 percent, and France's CAC-40 gained 2.6
Stocks clambered higher Thursday as investors looked past bad news from computer makers Compaq Computer and Hewlett-Packard, and bet tax refunds and six interest-rate cuts by the Federal Reserve will boost economic growth and corporate profits.
The Dow Jones industrial average erased an early loss to close with a gain of 49.96 points, or 0.48 percent, at 10,455.63. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 12.44 points, or 1.04 percent, to 1,202.93.
The technology-packed Nasdaq Composite Index gained 38.64 points, or 1.95 percent, to 2,022.96. Seven of the 10 most active Nasdaq stocks rose, including Cisco Systems Inc., up 68 cents to $19.38.