The Dow Jones industrial average managed to gain 16 points to 10,466.31, helping it squeeze out a 26-point gain for the week.
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told the House Budget Committee that he still thinks U.S. taxpayers should get some relief in the form of tax cuts, but he reiterated his contention that inflation was "very well-contained."
The comments weren't well received by traders who were pleading for a cut in short-term interest rates earlier this week.
"Until investors have more confidence that we are not going to get blindsided every day by a new wave of companies giving us bad news, the tone of the market will stay as it is--guarded at best," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer for First Albany.
Oracle shares fell $4.50 at $16.88 following its third-quarter profit warning. Other software stocks fell in sympathy after a slew of analysts downgraded the entire sector on the bad news.
Siebel Systems shed $8.50 at $36.13, while i2 Technologies and Sun Microsystems lost $2.94 and 44 cents a share, respectively. Microsoft closed off $2.67 at $56.69.
Among widely held PC stocks, Dell added 56 cents to $22.06, Gateway trimmed 30 cents to $15.45, Apple Computer rose 50 cents to $19.25 and Compaq closed up 49 cents to $19.97.
Tech consulting firm Sapient cut estimates and announced it would lay off 20 percent of its work force. The company also cited the broader economic slowdown, saying many of its customers were cutting spending on information technology projects. Its shares finished down $1.75 at $11.25.
Intel inched up 19 cents to $29.31. Advanced Micro Devices picked up 79 cents at $21.74, and IBM dropped $3.75 at $102.30.
Applied Materials clipped 8 cents at $45.25, while fellow chip-equipment makers Novellus Systems and KLA-Tencor added 56 cents and 44 cents a share, respectively. Lam Research moved up 25 cents to $22.75.
Internet stocks took their lumps as Yahoo lopped off $2.75 at $21.69, while America Online Time Warner and Amazon.com fell $1.94 and 44 cents a share, respectively. CMGI shed 25 cents at $3.97, and eBay finished up 19 cents to $37.69.
Cisco Systems fell $2.31 at $22.19. Nortel Networks lost $1.26 at $17.23, and Lucent Technologies ended up 3 cents at $12.03.
Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.