Stocks End in Mixed Territory

Stocks ended in mixed territory as blue chips held on to some of their gains in the session, but high-tech shares lost ground.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended on the plus side as retailers got a boost from some better than expected Thanksgiving weekend sales figures. The blue chip index ended up nearly 76 points at 10,546 after having been up more than 100 points earlier.

Traders say the late selling was an effort to lock in gains made earlier since up days have been so hard to come by recently.

Market breadth was positive as advancing issues topped losers 5-4, as about 925 million shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange.

Technology shares sank as trading progressed and the Nasdaq composite ended down 24 points at 2,880, after having been up about 100 points.

The broader S&P 500 gained seven points to settle at 1,349.

Earnings Cause Concern Again Earnings worries reappeared on Wall Street, limiting the market’s gains despite optimism about a resolution of the presidential election.

Earlier, blue chips advanced on strong performances by financial and pharmaceutical issues, but technology issues struggled to hold their gains after two prominent brokerage houses expressed concerns about Broadcom, Xilinx and Altera.

“The lack of closure on the election is certainly an excuse for seeing pressure in the marketplace, but fundamentally, you’ve had a lot of very high-priced stocks that are confronting a substantial slowdown in the economy and earnings,” said Robert J. Barbera, chief economist at Hoenig & Co.

In late afternoon trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 141.82 at 10,612.05.

Broader stock indicators were mixed. The Nasdaq composite index was off 0.29 at 2,904.09, after spiking up as much as 94 points in early trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 15.27 at 1,357.04.

The Day on Wall Street Stocks rose early in the session, reacting to Florida’s official recognition of Texas Gov. George W. Bush as the winner of its key electoral votes. By this afternoon, though, Vice President Al Gore had challenged the results in court — an indication that a resolution might still be out of reach.

Although the election indecision may be making investors hesitant, analysts attributed most of the market’s unevenness to earnings worries.

Merck rose $2.56 to $92 as part of a general gain in pharmaceuticals. Financial issues were led higher by banker J.P. Morgan, up $2.31 at $144.50. Both sectors are generally considered safe bets in times of market volatility. Their popularity reflects many investors’ uncertainty about what comes next, many analysts say.

The prospect of healthy earnings also gave discount retailers a boost, as investors responded to reports of strong Christmas sales. Wal-Mart rose $3.69 to $48.88.

But the same criteria dogged technology stocks, which surged early in trading. The sector slipped after Lehman Brothers lowered its earnings forecasts for semiconductor makers Xilinx and Altera. Salomon Smith Barney also cut its price target for circuit maker Broadcom.

Xilinx tumbled $9.50 to $47.31 and Altera was off $3.63 at $27.56. Broadcom fell $16.63 to $100.50.

“You’ve gone through a nine-month correction in technology,” said Kevin Caron, an associate strategist at Gruntal & Co. “Now the market’s trading on investor psychology. You’ve gone from perhaps an overly optimistic point of view to a very pessimistic view. So often as is the case, the reality is somewhere in between.”

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 13-to-10 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 609.45 million shares, compared with a total of 408.87 million shares on Friday, when trading ended at 1 p.m. ET because of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The Russell 2000 index rose 1.19 to 473.06.