The Nasdaq composite index reached a new closing high as the promise of strong corporate earnings pumped up technology stocks. Broader market indicators ended an otherwise quiet session little changed.
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 1.58 to close at 10,648.18, having given up an earlier gain of as much as 69 points. Traders said the modest performance was expected after last week, when the Dow gained almost 377 points in its best performance in three months. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock idnex fell 0.81, to 1335.21.
The Nasdaq rose 29.38, to 2915.95, surpassing its all-time closing high of 2887.06, set Sept. 10.
The index, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, benefited from strong performances from both industry leaders and highflying newcomers. Ask Jeeves, the maker of a Web search service that allows users to seek information by asking questions rather than typing in keywords, soared 17 7/8, to 68-5/16, after the company signed a deal with Microsoft.
Intel, considered a bellwether for the technology sector, rose 13/16, to 76 1/2, on speculation that it will report strong earnings Tuesday.
Earnings reports from a wide range of companies are expected to drive market activity this week. First Call/Thomson Financial expects the companies in the S&P 500 to report average profit growth of 19.4 percent for the recently ended third quarter, the strongest quarter since the second quarter of 1995.
Pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories rose 5/8, to 41-7/16, after meeting analysts' estimates. Abbott's profits rose 10 percent from last year's third quarter, and sales improved.
Still, the promise of widespread strength in corporate profit growth has created a difficult climate for any companies that miss analysts' expectations. Knight/Trimark fell 3-39/64, to 26 3/8, after saying it expects to report third-quarter earnings between 17 cents and 19 cents per share. Analysts had expected the company, a securities dealer that focuses on making markets for Nasdaq stocks, to earn 30 cents per share.
A wide range of cyclical stocks also closed higher. Cyclical companies tend to rise and fall along with the broader economy, and many are expected to show healthy earnings growth due, to the economy's strength. Caterpillar picked up 1-13/16 to close at 58-7/16, and Alcoa rose 1 3/8, to 63.