Stocks closed with mixed results as investors once again embraced technology stocks while shunning the broader market. Concerns about a third interest-rate hike this year sent blue-chip stocks slightly lower.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 19.58 to close at 10,597.74 after changing course several times during the session. The Dow fell as much as 81 points as trading began and was up as much as 37 later in the session.
Broader indicators were mostly higher. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 8.18, to 1373.46, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 30.92, to 3155.96, its eighth record high close in nine sessions.
Stocks fell steeply at the opening bell after the release of the Labor Department's producer price index. [Story, Page E1.]
The Federal Reserve is expected to give significant weight to the PPI when its Open Market Committee meets Nov. 16 to determine whether to raise interest rates to stave off inflation. Tim O'Neill, chief economist for the Bank of Montreal and Harris Bank, said he expects the Fed to raise rates a quarter-percentage point, with two more rate increases some time in 2000.
"That would have a dampening effect on equity markets," he said. Rising rates can hurt stocks by cutting into corporate profits.
Bonds slipped in response to the report. Shares of banks and brokerages, which are highly sensitive to inflation and rate changes, were mostly lower today. J.P. Morgan fell 2 3/4, to 132.
But technology stocks resumed their march higher. The Nasdaq, which is dominated by technology stocks, had ended a streak of seven consecutive records Tuesday with a loss of 18.93.
Today, the index rose anew as high-tech stocks such Cisco Systems, up 5 1/4 at 79 1/2, attracted buyers. Cisco, the leading maker of Internet equipment, said late Tuesday that its fiscal first-quarter profit beat analysts' expectations.
Cisco also indicated its second-quarter results might be better than expected as concerns over the year 2000 computer bug have lessened. That optimism helped lift other technology stocks, traders said.
"Despite Y2K concerns, companies are still spending heavily on technology," said Gary Campbell, chief investment officer at the Commerce Funds. "And when the market loves tech stocks, it really loves them."
Shares of Internet-related companies Expedia Inc. and Next Level Communications Inc. soared in their first day of trading. Expedia Inc., an online travel agent owned by Microsoft Corp., almost quadrupled. Next Level Communications, which helps regional phone companies provide Internet and cable services over phone lines, more than doubled.
Redmond, Wash.-based Expedia rose 39-7/16, to 53-7/16, giving the company a market value of $2.04 billion. About 11.5 million shares changed hands. Expedia sold 5.2 million shares at $14 each yesterday, raising $72.8 million.
Shares of Next Level rose 30 3/4, to 50 3/4, giving the company a market value of $3.98 billion. About 13 million shares changed hands. Rohnert Park, Calif.-based Next Level sold 8.5 million shares, an 11 percent stake, for $20 each, raising $170 million. Horsham, Pa.-based General Instrument, the world's largest provider of set-top boxes for cable television, acquired the company in 1995.
Another IPO, the largest in U.S. history, was the most actively traded stock. Shares of United Parcel Service, priced at 50 late Tuesday, rose to 68 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Bank One tumbled 4 3/8, to 34 5/8, after revising its outlook for 1999 operating earnings. The bank expects to miss analysts' estimates due to weakness at its First USA credit-card and consumer lending unit.
Bank One shares slid further in after-hours trading, according to Bloomberg News. The stock fell an additional 2 1/8, to 32 1/2, on the Instinet Corp. trading system.