Dow feels euro blues, tumbles 94 points

Nasdaq rises 19, but bigger gain melts in last hour of trading

Wall Street

September 15, 2000|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

NEW YORK - The Dow Jones industrial average fell for the fifth time in six days yesterday as consumer stocks including McDonald's Corp., Coca-Cola Co. and Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co. declined on concern that the falling euro will cut into profits.

The Dow dropped 94.71, or 0.9 percent, to 11,087.47 as J. P. Morgan & Co. fell. Investors bet that Chase Manhattan Corp.'s purchase of the bank won't generate enough profits to justify the $35.2 billion price tag.

Technology shares benefited from reports showing that wholesale prices unexpectedly fell and retail sales gained less than forecast in August, which buoyed optimism that the Federal Reserve is finished raising interest rates. Investors' return to technology shares also contributed to the decline in consumer stocks.

"With the recent inflation news being tame, there's no reason to hold the consumer names over the techs," said Gene Pisasale, who helps oversee $25 billion at Wilmington Trust Co. in Wilmington, Del.

The Nasdaq climbed 19.97 to 3,913.96. The index gave up 55 points in one 20-minute period during the last hour of trading.

"People are of the mindset that you sell the rallies," said Robert Leshman, who runs Briar Partners LP, a New York hedge fund. "It's not like last year" when gains in stocks triggered additional buying by "momentum" investors.

While the New York Stock Exchange composite index slipped 0.80 to 674.42, other broad market indexes edged upward. The Russell 2000 index, a benchmark of small-cap stocks, rose 5.21 to 539.21; the Wilshire 5000 index added 4.09 to 13,974.41; the American Stock Exchange composite index advanced 2.94 to 966.49; and the S&P 400 MidCap index gained 5.37 to 545.40.

The Sun-Bloomberg Maryland index of the top 100 Maryland stocks gained 3.16 to 281.24, paced by Ciena Corp., up $14.375 to $208.25, and Manugistics Group Inc., which added $4.625 to $91.50.

Rising and falling stocks were about even on the NYSE. About 1 billion shares traded on the Big Board, 5.6 percent more than the three-month daily average.

McDonald's lost $1.50 to $26.8125 on the NYSE. The No. 1 restaurant chain said it expects falling foreign currencies to cut 2000 earnings by 7 cents a share, 2 cents more than it had previously forecast. Coca-Cola, the largest soft-drink maker, fell $1.50 to $51.

The euro has lost 14 percent against the dollar this year, while the pound has slid 13 percent.

Colgate-Palmolive Co. tumbled $8.6875 to $47.50. Analysts at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and Goldman Sachs & Co. said the company has warned that third-quarter profit will be hurt by the euro's decline and slower sales.

Currency woes also prompted analyst Patrick Schumann at Edward Jones & Co. to reduce shaving-products maker Gillette Co. to "hold" from "buy" and remove the stock from the firm's model portfolio. The shares fell $1.4375 to $29.375. 3M, which makes 50,000 household products, fell $1.875 to $84.625.

Chase Manhattan and J. P. Morgan fell as investors questioned the merger. J. P. Morgan lost $1.875 to $179.625 after rising 9.2 percent this month. Chase slipped 38 cents to $50.3125.

Conexant Systems Inc. surged $15.5625, or 42 percent, to $52.625 and was the most active stock. The company, whose shares have fallen 56 percent in the past six months, said it will spin off its fastest-growing division, which makes chips for switches and other equipment that run the Internet.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. jumped $3 to $94.50. The No. 2 U.S. health insurer told analysts that it expects strong profits to continue. Other health care companies rallied as well.

Bear Stearns Cos. rose 75 cents to $69.75 after the No. 6 U.S. securities firm reported quarterly earnings that topped the average estimate from analysts by 11 percent.

Amazon.com Inc. rose $2.4375 to $44.875, and eBay Inc. jumped $5.9375 to $68.4375. Goldman Sachs analyst Anthony Noto recommended that investors buy shares of the online companies before executives meet with analysts next week.

Tektronix Inc. climbed $2.125 to $74.75 after the maker of electronic-testing gear reported fiscal first-quarter net income that beat analysts' estimates by 22 percent.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average was up 0.14 percent; Germany's DAX index rose 0.60 percent; Britain's FTSE 100 climbed 1.1875 percent; and France's CAC-40 rose 1.05 percent.

Today marks the quarterly "triple witching" expiration of options on common stocks and stock indexes and futures on indexes. Markets can be volatile in the sessions leading up to expiration as investors and Wall Street brokerages buy or sell stocks and options to reverse earlier bets.

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