A Volatile and Uncertain Day Leaves Stocks Mixed

Fears that earnings could slow as the economy cools continue to haunt the equity markets like the cold winds of winter. Donit even mention the magical mystery election going on in Florida. Appleis stock falls to near 52-week lows.

The latest earnings warning comes from BellSouth (BLS) which said profit growth in 2001 would increase below forecasts.

William Daley, Goreis campaign manager, exclaimed earlier this week that the legal maneuvering over the presidential election was having no effect on Wall Street. While that may well be true in the long run, in the short term the stock markets have bobbed up and down on every twist and turn in the extraordinary events happening in Florida.

This morning the markets instantly rallied to intraday highs on the news a Florida judge ruled that the Florida secretary of state can ignore vote recounts returned after the November 14th deadline. Of course, Al Goreis team vowed to appeal the decision to the Florida supreme court and stocks quickly tipped back into the red.

Donit expect any market recovery to ensue until the election stalemate is resolved one way or another.

Appleis stock dipped 1/2, or -2.63%, to close at 18 1/2 on volume of 7.9 million shares.

Finally, Apple is going to open a prototype Apple brand store in what could be the first of many. The first retail outlet is a 6,500 sq. foot operation in downtown Palo Alto, California. See the full Mac Observer article. This is really an important positive for Appleis business prospects going forward, but its full impact on the stockis price will have to wait for less a distracting day to be felt.

The Nasdaq shed 4 points to close at 3027 after dipping as low as 2967 intraday on volume of 1.7 billion shares. The Nasdaq is down 40% from the yearsi high and if the year were to end here, with the Nasdaq down 25% year-to-date, this would be the third worse year on record for the Nasdaq.

The Internet stocks continue to slide as a number of dot coms either entered bankruptcy or verged on it this week, including Pets.com, Priceline.com, Garden.com, TheStreet.com and MotherNature.com

The Dow slipped 26 points (-0.25%) to close at 10629 on volume on 1.06 million shares. Volume on the Dow is down about 400 points since the election and daily volume is off by more than 20% as would be bidders take to sidelines.

The S&P 500 lost 4.61 points (-0.34%) to close at 1367.71.

In Apple related businesses: Akamai lost 13/16 to 41 1/4. Adobe rallied 1 1/4 to 82 3/4. Earthlink lost 5/8 to 7 1/8.

IBM beat the pain in the markets today because CEO Louis Gerstener told analysts, "We saved billions and billions of dollars over the last several years through our e-procurement efforts. We will continue to drive this and leverage our cost and expense base. And this is exactly what our customers are asking us to do. Itis what we do best." IBM jumped 3 11/16 to 101 15/16.

PC stocks were mixed. Dell traded flat at 24 15/16. Compaq lost 0.50 to 25 dollars. Shares of Microsoft gained 1/8 to 69 1/16. Hewlett Packard climbed 9/16 to 35 5/8. Gateway was higher by 0.60 to 39.73.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Intel plans to introduce the Pentium 4 on Monday with Athlon-crushing speeds of 1.4 to 1.5 gigahertz. Intel climbed 1 1/2 to 41 1/2. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) traded flat at 20 9/16.

In economic news: Housing starts rose a mere 0.1% in October, but building permits climbed a surprising 1.3% instead of declining slightly as predicted by a survey of economists.

The new housing starts data is just one more indication of a slowing economy. "Though healthy, starts are substantially off from record levels seen earlier in the year," commented the Wall Street Journal. "October starts were down 15.9% from the 1.822 million rate peak seen in February. Year-over-year, starts declined 6.4%."

For full quotes on all the companies mentioned in this article, we have assembled this set of quotes at Yahoo! for your reference. For other stories regarding Appleis stock activity, visit our updated Apple Stock Watch Special Report.