Dow Sheds 18; Nasdaq Adds 46

Friday, June 30th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were mixed Friday, with worries over corporate earnings and rising interest rates hurting blue-chip shares while a surge in semiconductor stocks lifted the technology sector.

In late afternoon trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 18.04 at 10,380.00, adding to Thursday's 129-point drop.

Broader stock indicators were higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 3.14 at 1,445.53 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 46.22 at 3,923.45.

Investors received mixed news on Friday concerning the strength of the U.S. economy.

First, the Commerce Department reported that Americans' incomes in May rose twice as fast as their spending, pushing the nation's personal savings rate up to its highest level since the start of the year. This suggests consumers may be backing away from their buying binge of the last year.

But in a sign that economic growth continues unabated, the Purchasing Management Association of Chicago said its index of business activity in the Midwest rose more than expected.The report is considered a precursor of a national purchasing study due on Monday.

Investors continue to look for signs that the economy will cool off to a more sustainable growth rate to put a lid on inflation and keep the Federal Reserve from boosting interest rates at its August meeting.

The Fed has raised short-term rates six times in the past year in an effort to keep inflation under control. On Wednesday, while noting inflation risks continue in the economy, the Fed left interest rates unchanged.

Investors worry that additional interest rate hikes will slow the economy and hurt corporate profits. In the last few days, dozens of companies have warned of disappointing profits.

The latest was insurer American Financial Group, whose stock fell $1.25 to $25.688 after announcing that its second-quarter earnings would fall below expectations. Also anticipating lower-than-expected earnings was Hooper Holmes, which conducts physicals for life insurers. Its stock fell $1.375 to $8.75.

``Inflation remains the key to this market, but corporate earnings right now are the center stage,'' said Alan Ackerman, senior vice president at Fahnestock & Co. ``We will start seeing a lot of earnings in the next few weeks. The disappointments will be a disaster and good earnings will help stocks hold or move to higher levels.''

Computer chip stocks moved higher after the Semiconductor Industry Association said worldwide chip sales reached an all-time high of $15.8 billion in May, up 39.8 percent from $11.3 billion a year ago.

That helped pushed Rambus up $3.75 to $106.50.

JDS Uniphase rose $1.125 to $117.50 after being added to PaineWebber's ``Highlighted Stocks'' list.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a narrow margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 7979.12 million shares, down from 838.49 million shares on Thursday.

Trading was expected to be choppy Friday, the final day of the second quarter and the day before a long weekend for many investors who plan to skip Monday's abbreviated trading session. U.S. financial markets will close three hours early Monday and be closed Tuesday in observance of Independence Day.

The Russell 2000 index was down 0.72 at 511.86.