Some decent economic news helped revive buying on Wall Street Wednesday as the Dow Jones industrial average charged up 93 points to close at 10,394.89. The Nasdaq composite, hampered by weakness in the Internet sector, fell 9 points to 2,802.48.
Orders for costly durable goods fell for the first time in five months in September, dragged lower by weak demand for new cars and aircraft, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
The steeper-than-expected drop eased investors' inflation fears, though Thursday's third-quarter employment cost index and gross domestic product reports could change all that. The bond market rose sharply in celebration of the durable goods release.
Still, technology stocks closed mostly lower while bank and cyclical stocks gained momentum.
"I think people are just reluctant to jump in with both feet on the buy side," said Ned Collins, head of trading at Daiwa Securities America. "It is just a continuation of the confusion that is going on in the marketplace right now. I don't see what the catalyst is going to be to get us out."
eBay Inc. (EBAY) shares fell 13 5/16 to 138 11/16 after posting a profit of 2 cents a share in its third quarter. Even though that figure topped the Street estimate, some analysts were put off by the less-than-spectacular jump in total merchandise sales and rising operating expenses.
Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) fell 5 5/16 to 75 15/16 ahead of its third-quarter earnings report while Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) and Excite@Home Corp. (ATHM) fell 4 13/16 and 1 7/16 a share, respectively. America Online Inc. (AOL) managed to push up 2 3/8 to 119 1/8 and Lycos Inc. (LCOS) dropped 3/4 to 53 1/4.
Intel Corp. (INTC) dropped 2 to 69 7/16 after Salomon Smith Barney cut its earnings forecasts for the chipmaker. Salomon cited multiple reports that Intel is still having some manufacturing issues this quarter and demand cloudy due to reports of cancellations from Taiwanese motherboard makers.
Advanced Micros Devices Inc. (AMD) chopped off 11/16 to 18 7/16 and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) trimmed 1 5/8 to 93 7/8.
Among widely held PC stocks, Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) lost 1 3/16 to 38 3/8; Compaq Computer Corp. (CPQ) shed 3/8 to 19 1/8 after beating Street estimates in its latest quarter; Gateway Inc. (GTW) lopped off 1 1/4 to 62 and Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) closed up 1 5/16 to 76 3/8.
SBC Communications (SBC), one of the recent additions to the Dow Jones industrial average, gained 2 9/16 to 48 1/8 after it reported earnings of 57 cents a share.
After a third quarter of rapid acquisitions, Global Crossing Ltd. (GBLX) shot up 1 1/16 to 35 3/16 after it said its loss for the third quarter was $34.1 million, or 4 cents a share, beating First Call's expected loss of 10 cents a share.
Qwest Communications (Nasdaq: QWST) lost 9/16 to 33 7/8 after it met Wall Street projections Wednesday with third quarter operating earnings of 3 cents a share as revenue jumped to $1.02 billion, up 26 percent from a year ago.
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) fell 1 ? to 90 7/8 while Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) each gained 1 3/8 to close at 44 13/16 and 92 5/8, respectively.
Among leading network-equipment makers, Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) added 1 15/16 to 69 3/16; 3Com Corp. (COMS) inched up 7/8 to 27 7/8 and Lucent Technologies Inc. (LU) closed off 1/8 to 62 3/4.