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Stocks In Limp Showing

Earnings concerns and last week's inability of the Dow Jones Industrial Average to close above the 10,000 mark slapped a lid on the U.S. stock market Monday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 13.04 points, or 0.1 percent, to 9,890.51. The Nasdaq Composite fell 25.35 points, or 1.0 percent, to 2,395.92.

Although some participants believe Dow 10K is nothing more than a number, others recall that the psychological barriers of 100 and 1,000 didn't come down easily.

"It is interesting to note that the Dow took a year to break the 4,000 level, eight weeks to break 5,000, four weeks to break 6,000, 13 weeks to break 7,000 and 24 weeks to break both 8,000 and 9,000," said Ralph Acampora, director of technical research at Prudential Securities, in a research brief.

Last week's botched attempts at closing above 10,000 only served to fuel the concerns of market bears that happy days aren't here again just yet.

"The market is tired, soggy, and has no enthusiasm," said Stanley Nabi, chief investment officer at Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette Asset Management Co.

Nabi thinks two things are necessary for the market to bust out of its doldrums.

"What you need here is a broadening of the market, meaning more groups participating in the advance," he said. "Number two, when first-quarter earnings begin to come out, you need a good, solid 20 percent or 30 percent of the companies reporting above expectations."

Others like the market's cautious tone, feeling that any sideways activity in the Dow would be healthy given its fat runup over the past two weeks.

"The broad market is still in an improving trend, and other than the round number on the Dow, has exhibited few of the toppy signs that would normally lead to a price correction," said Robert Dickey, managing director of technical research at Dain Rauscher Wessels.

"It's hard to find excess in this market that has rallied up on such a narrow list of stocks, when many other stocks are still in early stages of uptrends or recoveries."

A few billion-dollar merger announcements accompanied Monday's action. Comcast (CMCSA) will buy fellow cable system operator MediaOne (UMG) in a stock deal valued at $60 billion, including debt assumption. Comcast stock shriveled 5 3/8 to 64 3/4, while MediaOne shares picked up 7 3/4 to 68 1/2.

As well, U.S. Filter (USF) was unchanged at 30 1/2. France's Vivendi will buy the water treatment concern for $6.2 billion.

Internet-related names rocked higher on takeover enthusiasm. Broadcast.com (BCST) added 31 1/2 to 116 1/2. A BusinessWeek article, citing unnamed sources, reported Yahoo! (YHOO) to be interested in buying the aggregator and distributor of streaming media programming on the Web.

Another distributor of streaming media, InterVu (ITVU), bolted 13 5/8, or 41 percent, to 47 in sympathy with Broadcast.com.

24/7 Media skipped ahead 4 1/2 to 50 1/4. It's up abou85 percent since Wednesday's close on excitement surrounding the company's three-year deal with NBC-Interactive Neighborhood. 24/7 operates networks of Web sites that enable advertisers and publishers to capitalize on Internet advertising.

DoubleClick (DCLK) lost 2 3/4 to 177. The Internet advertising solutions company said Comcast Online Communications will use its DART technology to target and manage ad inventory and generate detailed ad performance reports for advertisers.