Blue-chip stocks fell today for a fourth consecutive session as investors found many reasons to move money away from industrial companies and to the technology issues that once again pushed the Nasdaq composite to a new closing high.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 99.59 to 11,251.71. For the week, the key market barometer was down 471.27 points.
The technology-dominated Nasdaq composite index rose 45.89 to close at a record 4235.40.
"There's a panic to own Nasdaq stocks because day after day the Nasdaq goes up," said Larry Rice, chief investment officer of Josephthal & Co.
The Nasdaq rose on the strength of industry leaders such as Cisco Systems and newer companies like Healtheon/WebMD, an online health care information company that is the subject of takeover speculation. Cisco rose 2 7/8 to 115 1/4 and Healtheon rose 8-15/16 to 59-9/16.
The Nasdaq also drew some buyers as investors moved money away from older, cyclical stocks that are sensitive to fluctuations in inflation. A rise in crude oil prices this week has rekindled fears that inflation could revive and prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more than than the market has been expecting.
Crude prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange have surged more than $4 a barrel in the past week after members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said they would not increase output as expected in March.
The increase in oil prices helped companies like Exxon Mobil, which rose 1-5/16 to 85, and Chevron, which gained 1-1/16 to 88-9/16. Airlines, however, which could face sharply higher expenses because of rising fuel prices, showed a decline in stock prices.
AMR, the parent company of American Airlines, fell 2 to 58-7/16, while Delta Air Lines fell 2 to 46 7/8.
Procter & Gamble fell 9-7/8 to 102-11/16 amid reports it may buy drugmaker Warner-Lambert. Shares of the consumer products company have tumbled this week as investors debated how much P&G's earnings would be hurt by a bold move to acquire a leading drug company.
Earnings reports once again drove market activity. Lucent Technologies ended a volatile session up 1/2 at 53 after the company said late Thursday that its profit fell 23 percent in the final quarter of 1999.
Lucent's earnings narrowly missed Wall Street forecasts that were already slashed after a warning two weeks ago, but the company's chief executive expressed optimism about future results.
On the Nasdaq, Sun Microsystems fell 2 1/8 to 84-7/16 despite a better-than-expected profit report late Thursday by the company, which produces hardware and software for the Internet and other computer networks. Sun's stock had rallied more than 25 percent over the past two weeks.