NEW YORK — Optimism that interest rates might soon be lowered sent blue chip stocks soaring Monday, while earnings worries again dogged the tech sector.
Financial stocks surged on speculation that the Federal Reserve would cut rates more quickly than expected. But tech stocks fell, unable to overcome Wall Street’s doubts about their profitability in the slowing economy.
“You still have significant earnings disappointments coming in technology,” said Jim Weiss, chief investment officer at State Street Research and Management. “And even though technology issues have come down, there are still valuation issues. Tech was hugely overvalued and blue chips never got to those levels.”
Blue chips’ strength Monday appeared predicated on hopes the Fed would act more aggressively than expected at its regular meeting Tuesday, urged on by recent economic data, ranging from weak holiday sales to signs industrial production is slowing.
“There’s growing optimism that the Fed will act sooner rather than later to cut rates,” said Alan Skrainka, chief market strategist at Edward Jones of St. Louis. “If they don’t cut rates Tuesday, they’ll send a very strong message that rate cuts are coming.”
Although few actually expect a rate cut this week, Skrainka said many people expect the Fed “is going to be pretty unambiguous in saying the risk has shifted from inflation to recession.”
“Tech stocks don’t seem to have found a bottom yet,” said Steven Goldman, market strategist at Weeden & Co. “We’re in the midst of what could be a reversal of these high interest rates, and they’re still not ready to stabilize.”
Corporate profits’ worries remained evident Monday.
Time Warner fell $9.47, or 13 percent, to $63.25 after the media giant reduced its 2000 annual outlook, citing soft demand for cable advertising and disappointing results from the Adam Sandler movie “Little Nicky.”
— The Associated Press
Amazon.com fell $3 to $19.88, after dipping to $18.94, a 52-week low, on continued worries about online retailers’ performance in a moderating economy.
Also Monday, Wall Street rewarded companies which announced restructurings to increase profitability.
Insurer Aetna shot up $3.81, nearly 12 percent, to $36.81 after saying it would cut 5,000 jobs, or about 12.5 percent of its work force. Gillette rose $1 to $34.81 after the personal care products maker announced it was cutting 2,700 jobs, or about 8 percent of its work force.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 5 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 1.4 billion, compared with a record 1.8 billion shares Friday.
Trading was unusually heavy Friday because of the expiration of option contracts and futures contracts, in what is known as “triple-witching.”
The Russell 2000 index on Monday was up 5.22 at 463.25.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average slipped nearly 0.5 percent. Germany’s DAX index rose 0.9 percent, Britain’s FT-SE 100 was up more than1.1 percent, and France’s CAC-40 gained 0.8 percent.
On the Net:
New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com
Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com