Stock prices ended the quietest session of 1999 with mixed results today as optimism about second-quarter earnings gave way to nagging concerns about interest rates.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 17.73 points, to 10,552.56, paring most of its 115-point gain earlier in the session. During the week the blue-chip barometer shed 303 points, or 2.8 percent, as investors worried about interest rates and corporate profits.
Broader market indicators also turned lower late in the day, with the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index falling 0.47 to 1,315.31 and the Nasdaq composite index falling 1.34 to 2,552.65.
"This is a fairly frustrating market," said Barry Hyman, senior equity analyst at Ehrenkrantz King Nussbaum in New York.
Prices initially rose after the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy grew at a 4.3 percent annual rate in the first quarter, slightly better than the 4.1 percent estimated in May. The report of a stronger-than-expected economy could have stirred fears of inflation, but investors seemed to interpret the report as portending healthy second-quarter corporate earnings.
"We started out well based on the economic news, but there was simply no strong follow-through," said Tony Cecin, director of institutional trading at Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis.
Technology stocks faltered after Merrill Lynch's Internet analyst, Henry Blodget, issued a report saying America Online may not beat analysts' earnings estimates by the huge margins it has in past quarters. AOL fell 3-15/16 to 102-13/16, pulling down most of the Internet sector.
Yet the slumping market made room for a big new initial public offering. Juniper Networks, a provider of Internet infrastructure, was priced at 34 and closed at 98 7/8, a gain of 191 percent.
Stocks got some support from a modest improvement in the bond market. The Treasury's 30-year bond carried a yield of 6.15 percent, down from 6.16 percent late Thursday.
While most sectors were mixed, some individual stocks flourished. Alcoa was the strongest component of the Dow, rising 2 5/16 to 62 11/16 after a Merrill Lynch analyst raised his price target on the stock, citing better-than-expected aluminum prices.
Certain high-tech and financial stocks that had been depressed by the recent selloff recovered a bit. IBM rose 9/16 to 123 1/8. J.P. Morgan gained 1-1/16 to 128 9/16.
Lockheed Martin, which announced plans to sell $1 billion in assets, rose 11/16 to 35 7/8.
Still, analysts said most stocks are stalled as investors await the Fed's meeting next week.
"After that, the market should start to focus on earnings rather than interest rates," Hyman said.