Investors still stymied by concerns about the economy and its effect on company profits sent technology and blue chip stocks lower today. Retailing stocks also fell despite some better-than-expected January sales figures.
At noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was off 10.41 at 10,936.31. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 2.02 to 2,605.80 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 1.21 to 1,342.10.
"I think investors are testing the waters. It's not a stampede to buy, but that's OK," said Joe Keating, chief investment officer for Kent Funds. "When things get too euphoric, you get back to what it was in 2000. My hope is the market's advance will be slow and steady."
Gap was down $2.46 at $27.10 after it reported a sharp drop in sales. Investors rewarded Kmart, up 7 cents at $8.96, but punished Sears, down 95 cents at $37.90, after both stores reported sales gains.
In the high-tech sector, Intel was up 88 cents at $35.81. Cisco rose 33 cents to $31.39, recovering slightly after a below-expectations earnings report started a small technology sell-off Wednesday.
J.P. Morgan Chase rose 47 cents to $52.80, and General Electric gained 95 cents to $47.90.
Ciena, the No. 2 U.S. maker of fiber-optic equipment, rose $1.31 to $83.31.
Lucent, the biggest phone-equipment company, rose 34 cents to $17.35. It dropped 4.8 percent Wednesday. Juniper advanced $1.19 to $95.56. The No. 2 maker of high-capacity computer-networking equipment tumbled 7.7 percent yesterday.
Cisco's report "got all the bad news out," said Jeff Petherick, who helps manage $700 million at NorthPointe Capital. "Once we get beyond the Cisco news, the market may well head higher."
WorldCom advanced $1.06 to $21.19; Oracle rose 88 cents to $28.56; Applied Micro Circuits advanced $1 to $50.81.
Time Warner Telecom rose $1.56 to $72.38. The provider of telephone and Internet service to businesses said it lost 3 cents a share in the fourth-quarter. The company was expected to lose 8 cents.
Mandalay Resort Group lost $1.05 to $20.85. The hotel and casino owner said fourth-quarter profit from operations will be about 1 cent a share in the quarter ended Jan. 31, missing analysts forecasts of 14 cents.