NEW YORK – Technology stocks narrowly broke a seven-day losing streak Tuesday on the strength of software giant Oracle Corp.'s upbeat forecasts, managing to hold a one-digit gain until the markets' close.
Blue-chip stocks, however, buckled as concerns about weak company profits reasserted themselves.
The tech-packed Nasdaq composite index gained a modest 4.03 points to close at 1,992.66, off its earlier highs and below the psychologically significant 2,000-point-level.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 48.71 points at 10,596.67. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 4.15 points to end at 1,212.58.
Oracle, the No. 2 U.S. software vendor, on Monday reported earnings that beat analyst estimates and said the worst may be over for the battered tech industry.
The blue-chips' pullback after an initial surge at the open didn't surprise analysts. ``For every Oracle, there are still companies out there that are indicating difficulties with near-term earnings,'' said Richard E. Cripps, chief market strategist for Legg Mason of Baltimore, crediting the market's gains to the usual snapback that occurs after strong selling.
``Investors are not confident right now, and that's the problem,'' Cripps said.
Oracle was the Nasdaq's most active issue, rising $1.92 to $16.76. But the enthusiasm was selective, and the broader sector was more mixed. Sun Microsystems was up 42 cents at $14.85, while Ciena tumbled, dropping $3.56 to $35.30.
Honeywell International Inc. helped yank the Dow into negative territory after General Electric said there is no chance its purchase of Honeywell will be approved by European anti-trust regulators. Honeywell slumped $3.18 to $36.83. GE rose 6 cents to $49.06.
Brokerage stocks surged after Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers posted a 14 percent jump in earnings, beating estimates, powered by strong bond trading and record fees from debt offerings. Lehman gained $3.55 to $70.95.
Goldman Sachs, one of Wall Street's premier investment banks, reported a 24 percent drop in earnings on a slowdown in new stock offerings and a stock market slump. Still, its stock gained $1.54 at $90.19.
Qwest Communications International Inc. rose $2.50 to $32.32 after the fourth-largest U.S. long-distance phone company said it continues to see strong demand for its services.
Qwest also said it still expects to meet its 2001 revenue and earnings targets as it continues to build market share in its key growth segments despite the current weak economy.
Also Tuesday, a new Commerce Department report showed new housing construction starts fell 0.4 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.62 million. The drop was smaller than many analysts were predicting and left housing starts at a still-healthy level.
The Russell 2000 index fell 1.80 to 488.73.
Advancing issues traded nearly evenly with decliners on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 1.17 billion shares, compared with the nearly 1.10 billion shares Monday.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell nearly 1.0 percent. European shares fared better. Germany's DAX index advanced 0.9 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 gained nearly 0.2 percent, and France's CAC-40 was up 0.8 percent.
-- The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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