Investors Buy Stocks, But Mood Sours

Blue chip stocks and selected technology shares rose today as bargain hunters and pessimists about corporate earnings battled back and forth through the trading day.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 65.38 points, or 0.64 percent, to 10,241.02, according to the latest data, while the Nasdaq composite index gained 9.25 points, or 0.47 percent, to 1,972.04.

But broader diversified market measures fell. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gave up 1.34 points, or 0.11 percent, to 1,180.18. And the Wilshire 5000 index fell 18.07 points, or 0.16 percent, to 10,944.49.

Further illustrating the market's negative tone, declining issues outnumber gainers by 11 to eight on the Nasdaq and by 17 to 13 on the New York Stock Exchange.

"I don't think there is much rhyme or reason" for late-session gains, said Peter Coolidge, senior equity trader at Brean Murray & Co. "Apparently the market just got to a level where buyers are coming in. We are just making up part of the losses from yesterday at this point, so there is nothing to get excited about."

The Microsoft Factor

Gains in Microsoft Corp. shares helped both the Dow and Nasdaq. The stock rose $2.02, or 3.13 percent, to $66.50 after it said it is changing how it licenses its Windows operating system to computer makers, allowing them to remove its Web browser and make other changes.

The move was in response to a ruling last month by a U.S. appeals court that upheld a finding that Microsoft held a monopoly in PC operating systems and that some of its licensing practices were illegal, Microsoft said.

Market Movers

But bears were encouraged by disappointing confessions from yet more companies. This time it was Comverse Technology Inc. , among others.

Telecommunications software maker Comverse said it expects earnings for the fiscal year 2002 to be about 23 percent below analysts' expectations as its customers delay purchases in light of the poor economic climate. Comverse also said earnings for its quarter ended July 31 will be as much as a third below expectations.

Comverse shares tumbled 33 percent, or $13.07, to $25.95.

Compaq Computer Corp. , the No. 2 personal computer maker, gained 69 cents to $14.45 even after it lowered its second-quarter forecast on the back of an industry slowdown and increased job cuts.

Analysts said they hope aggressive cost-cutting programs, such as slashing jobs, will let Compaq improve its bottom line in terms of earnings per share.

DoubleClick Inc. fell $2.04 to $9.98 after the No. 1 online ad company said its loss widened within Wall Street's lowered expectations, but revenues would trail forecasts. It gave few signs of optimism as it still contends with a decline in ad spending.

AOL Time Warner Inc. lost $1.91 to $48.27 on the New York Stock Exchange. Online advertiser L90 Inc. fell 15 cents to $2.28, and 24/7 Media slipped 1 cent to 22 cents.

Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. provided a bright spot when the largest bottler of PepsiCo Inc. soft drinks said profits climbed, citing growth in bottled water and new PepsiCo products. Shares gained $1.68 to $43.71.

Polaroid Corp. lost 80 cents to $1.90. The camera and film maker said it was optimistic about talks with its banks over looming loan deadlines, but its stock tumbled more than 34 percent amid concerns the company may be on the brink of bankruptcy.

Motorola dropped 44 cents to $15.06, while Yahoo lost $1.26 to $16.57 before their profit reports, which are expected after the bell.