Nasdaq Cools; Markets Rise in Mexico, Europe

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Some tech stock investors took a little money off the table Thursday, halting the Nasdaq index’s run for 5,000--at least for a day.

In foreign trading, meanwhile, the Mexican market’s main index topped 8,000 for the first time, and European markets soared on renewed telecom fever.

On Wall Street the Nasdaq composite index slipped 29.57 points, or 0.6%, to 4,754.51, recovering from the day’s low of 4,705.

The red-hot Russell 2,000 small-stock index also stalled, losing 0.7%.

Blue-chip stocks, which have taken a back seat to the action on Nasdaq in recent months, managed small gains. The Dow industrials added 26.99 points to 10,164.92.


But losers still topped winners by 17 to 13 on the New York Stock Exchange and by 22 to 21 on Nasdaq. Trading remained heavy.

The long-awaited Palm Inc. stock offering hit the market Thursday and conceivably drew some cash away from other tech names, as it soared from its offering price of $38 to a peak of $165. It closed at $95.06.

But the broader market’s major focus was on the telecom sector, on Wall Street and abroad.

Rumors of more major telecom mergers, and excitement over the potential for the wireless market, helped drive AT&T; up $6.31 to $54.19. AT&T; also was helped by a Goldman Sachs analyst’s comments. Lauding AT&T;'s wireless market position, he reiterated that the stock remains on Goldman’s recommended list.

Germany’s Deutsche Telekom surged $8.81 to $97.06 on the NYSE, on talk that it may bid for Qwest Communications. Qwest rose $2 to $60.

France Telecom rocketed $27.06 to $204 on the NYSE. The firm announced plans to sell shares in its Internet access unit.

The rally in global telecom names lifted the German DAX stock index 2.8% to a record high and France’s CAC index 3.5%, also a record.

In Mexico the main market index leaped 5.2% to a record 8,007.76, as bank stocks rallied briskly on rumors that credit-rating agency Moody’s may upgrade Mexico’s debt to investment-grade status.

In the U.S. bond market trading remained dull before the government’s report today on February employment trends.

Among Thursday’s highlights:

* Telecom equipment stocks, rising with the phone stocks, included Lucent, up $3.13 to $71.75; Scientific Atlanta, up $16.69 to $130.69; and Nokia, up $10.50 to a record $212.

But JDS Uniphase slid $7.88 to $273 after hitting a record high of $285.72 intra-day.

* In the tech sector, profit-taking clipped Oracle, off $3 to $68.50; Vitesse Semiconductor, off $12.38 to $93.75; and Sun Microsystems, off $1.88 to $96.06.

Adobe Systems tumbled $19.75 to $80.63 after the company’s chief financial officer resigned.

But Texas Instruments surged $8.63 to a record $173, and Ariba rocketed $19.81 to a record $299.69.

* Radiant Systems soared $28.13 to $83.38 after the company said it will work with Microsoft to develop electronic commerce systems.

* Oil-service stocks continued to surge as crude oil briefly topped $32 a barrel before falling back. Schlumberger zoomed $4.13 to $81.63, and Transocean Sedco jumped $2.50 to $44.

* Higher oil prices are bad for airlines, and that put new pressure on the Dow transportation stocks index, which fell 1.8% to 2,353.93. Delta Air Lines lost $1.63 to $43.81 and Alaska Airlines fell 56 cents to $26.13.

* Retailer Saks added 25 cents to $12.06. Carlos Slim Helu and other members of one of Mexico’s wealthiest families said they have acquired a 7% stake in the firm.

* In the entertainment sector, News Corp. rose $2 to a record $62.69.

* Biotech stocks, one of the market’s hottest sectors this year, were broadly lower. Human Genome Sciences dived $11.13 to $214.13, Alkermes fell $7.13 to $189 and Cephalon fell $3.41 to $66.56.

* Among Southland issues, Trimedyne jumped $1.88 to $5.25 after reporting progress in its patent application covering a new cosmetic laser.


Market Roundup, C7