NEW YORK (CNNfn) - What could have been a historic day on Wall Street ended as just another trading session Tuesday, with stocks closing narrowly mixed amid hardly a trace of excitement in the market after the Dow's brief flirtation with 10,000.
Earlier in the session, after four days of cautious advances and quick retreats, the Dow made history, passing 10,000 for the first time in its 114-year existence.
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But the euphoria was short-lived, and minutes after the index crossed the five-figure threshold sellers came in, wiping out the Dow's gains and sending the index below Monday's closing level.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed 28.30 points lower at 9,930.47, retreating after climbing as high as 10,001.78.
"I think that you are going to be flirting with that number back and forth. I think good traders, on the excitement, probably took some profits and I think that we will vacillate and move a lot higher," said Ralph Acampora, chief technical analyst at Prudential Securities.
Market breadth on the New York Stock Exchange was negative, with declining stocks beating gainers 1,674 to 1,302 on trading volume of 746 million shares.
Poor market breadth, with only a select number of blue chip stocks enjoying the rally, while the broader market lags behind, could eventually cause a correction and a retreat toward the market's lows of late 1998, said Richard McCabe, Merrill Lynch's chief market analysts and one of many Wall Street experts unimpressed with a five-digit Dow. (957K WAV) or (957K AIFF)
Alan Greenberg, chairman and chief executive at Bear Stearns, was even less excited by the 10,000 number.
"In the long run, stocks that earn money will go up and stocks that don't earn money will go down, regardless of where the Dow Jones average is, which is just a very small number of stocks," he said.
The Nasdaq Composite rose 7.83 to 2,439.27. The S&P 500 eased 0.90 to 1,306.36.
Bonds rose sharply, helped by optimism that inflation will remain tame, a view Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan reiterated in a speech earlier in the day. The bellwether 30-year Treasury bond rose 21/32 of a point in price, for a yield of 5.47 percent.
The dollar remained stuck within a close trading band against both the yen and the euro.
Caution near the peak
As had been the case over the past three trading sessions, the proximity to 10,000 seemed to cause caution among investors.
Still, an announcement by chemical giant and Dow component Union Carbide (UK) that first-quarter earnings will come in at the high end of forecasts helped lift that stock 1/2 to 44 and push the Dow toward the five-figure landmark in the morning.
The Dow also got some help from Merck (MRK), which rose 1-5/8 to 85-7/8 on news the Food and Drug Administration has approved broader use of the company's drug Mevacor, a cholesterol lowering treatment.
Major technology components, which had been a drag on the Dow in early trading, put in a mixed performance. IBM (IBM) fell 1 to 181 and Hewlett Packard (HWP) rose 1-1/8 to 72-11/16.
The Dow's financial components, however, weighed on the overall index, with American Express (AXP) slipping 2-3/16 to 123-9/16, J.P. Morgan (JPM) losing 1-3/8 to 124, and Citigroup (C) shedding 1-7/16 to 64-1/2. Citigroup announced it would buy back $2 billion of its shares.
The rest of the market appeared satisfied to remain within a limited trading range, with few stocks making large strides in either direction.
Webs on a roll
Among the few outstanding issues, shares of Go2Net (GNET) soared 12-5/8 to 126, a gain of more than 11 percent coming on top of strong gains from Monday, when Microsoft co-founder and billionaire investor Paul Allen said he would buy a $300 million stake in the company, which operates a network of community Web sites and the MetaCrawler search engine.
Other Web-related issues shared the excitement, with Cyberian Outpost (COOL) surging 2-7/8, or more than 15 percent, to 21-3/8 and CyberCash (CYCH) rallying 1-3/4, or more than 12 percent, to 16.
More established Internet players showed a cooler attitude, with America Online (AOL) rising 2-7/8 to 104-7/8, Amazon.com (AMZN) slipping 5-1/8 to 133-13/16 and Yahoo! (YHOO) easing 4-9/16 to 174-7/8.
Tech blue chips take the lead
Despite the Dow's uncertain performance, the Nasdaq managed to hold to small gains through most of the morning, largely due to strength in the blue chip tech sector.
Shares of Microsoft (MSFT) rose 3-3/16 to 169-1/16, Intel (INTC) advanced 2-3/8 to 120-1/4, Cisco Systems (CSCO) gained 1 to 106 and Dell Computer (DELL) inched up 5/8 to 44-3/8.
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-- by staff writer Malina Poshtova Zang