Stocks ended Wednesday regular trading on a mixed note, with blue chips stuck lower while the technology-heavy Nasdaq market reversed course to manage a 20-point gain.
A speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan failed to give investors any hints on the future course of interest rates.
In a speech to business leaders in Boston, Greenspan lashed out against a rising tide of protectionism in the United States and criticized the Clinton administration's trade policy as being too confrontational.
Many analysts said Wednesday's market action mirrored Tuesday, when inflation fears eroded stock and bond prices.
"The equity market clearly voted with its feet yesterday because of the leadership in the cyclical and the weakness in technology and health," said Ned Riley, chief investment officer at BankBoston.
The Nasdaq Composite Index ended up 20.36 to 2432.39, the @100 Index rose 43.21 to 4543.36, and the @Net Index increased 3.02 to 285.5. The S&P 500 picked up 0.55 to 1294.81, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 18.37 to 10577.89.
Shares of Banyan Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BNYN) rose 1 1/16 to 11 5/8 after CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) announced it would take a 35 percent stake in Banyan's Switchboard website, which will get $135 million in branding and promotion over several years.
Rambus Inc. (Nasdaq: RMBS) gained 6 11/32 to 73 3/8, after days of falling on concerns that PC manufacturers are reluctant to install the company's memory chip technology. But in a research note released today, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter analyst Mark Edelstone said he expects OEMs to use Rambus in PCs using Intel's Pentium III chip.
Edelstone also helped boost Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) up 1 1/4 to 51 15/16. Morgan Stanley reiterated a "strong buy" rating on Intel, which earlier this week announced plans to spend $780 million to buy Dialogic Corp., whose hardware and software allows voice and data to be carried together over computer networks using Intel chips.
Convergence also boosted Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN), which today moved up 4 5/16 to 110 15/16 on news that it would buy telephony software maker Telogy Networks for $435 million in stock.
Chipmaker Altera Corp. (Nasdaq: ALTR) continued to rise, picking up 3 3/8 to 38 a day after the company announced it would buy a privately-held firm, Boulder Creek Engineering, to improve Altera's Quartus design software.
American Power Conversion Corp. (Nasdaq: APCC) advanced 1 1/4 to 19 7/16, following a recent 2-for-1 stock split for the maker of power supply products, electrical surge protection devices, power conditioning equipment and related items.
Software company Marimba Inc. (Nasdaq: MRBA) retreated 11 3/8 to 46 after one of its IPO underwriters, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, began coverage of the stock with a "neutral" rating.
AdForce Inc. (Nasdaq: ADFC) fell 7 3/8 to 21 9/16, or 28 percent, on Wednesday after the company lost GeoCities as a client. GeoCities represented 17 percent of Adforce's revenue.
Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) rose 2 9/16 to 75 1/16 after announcing it would report stronger-than-expected second quarter results. The maker of multimedia software also said it will cut 250 jobs, or about 9 percent of its staff, and take a $15 million charge.
Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) rose 4 5/16 to 142 1/2 after unveiling plans to issue $80 million worth of stock to buy Online Anywhere, whose software provides Net access to non-PC devices.
iTurf Inc. (Nasdaq: TURF) went up 1/4 to 20 after the company reported first quarter results far better than analysts expected.
Newbridge Networks Corp. (NYSE: NN) dropped 9/16 to 26 1/2 on news that the company lost a penny more than analysts expected in the fourth quarter.
Barnesandnoble.com Inc. (Nasdaq: BNBN) lost 2 13/16 to 17 3/16 after its parent dropped plans to buy Ingram Book Group. Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) slid 6 5/16 to 112 1/8.
Among other widely-held stocks, Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) lost 7/16 to 33 1/2, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) slid 3 1/16 to 110 1/8, and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) dropped 1/16 to 78 7/16.>