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Early Strength a Memory, Stocks Give Back Gains

The Nasdaq and other major indices have gotten knocked lower since around noon, with breadth solidly negative.


Nasdaq Composite Index

made another grab for the spotlight today, this time unsuccessfully. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

spent the morning backstage, sulking like an unwanted understudy.

Curtains came down on the Comp around noon EST as the tech-laden index gave back all of its solid 30-point gain and was lately dipping into the red, off 28, or 0.6%, to 4399. Still, a solid earnings report from


(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report

and the remaining optimism from yesterday's productivity report were enough to keep the Comp in the green for a good part of the morning.

Net Hacking: Join the discussion on our

message boards. Internet Sector

index was down 17, or 1.4%, to 1145. A fresh round of possibly hacker-related problems hurt online brokers




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and was putting pressure on E-Finance Index

, off 2.8%.

Meanwhile the Dow was sinking 127, or 1.2%, to 10,830, handing back all of yesterday's 51-point gain and more. Among the average's heaviest weights today were

American Express

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, off 2.5%, and


(MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. Report

, sliding 5.4%.


(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

2.2% drop also was contributing to the 30-stock average's downside.

Red dotted a number of other sectors as well. The

Dow Jones Transportation Average

was down 6.52, or 0.3%, to 2575, while the

Dow Jones Utility Average

was slipping 0.40, or 0.1%, to 310.87. Oil stocks also were under pressure, with the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

slipping 2.1% despite a rise in the price of crude oil.

"There seems to be a rotation out of cyclicals and into tech stocks again," said James Maguire Jr., a

New York Stock Exchange

specialist at

Henderson Brothers

. "People are looking to put their money to work and the tech sector has been the top performer. A lot of fund managers are under a lot of pressure to outperform the market. It's just not happening in the value stocks."

Gold was a rare bright spot in today's market, with mining stocks climbing on expectations that supply reductions are in the pipeline. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index

was rising 5.5%, helped by strength in

Placer Dome


, gleaming 8.6%, and

Barrick Gold


, up 6.2%. Gold for April delivery was lately at $307.60 an ounce, up from yesterday's close of $301.70.

Despite the selling that cut through a broad range of sectors today, one trader waxed optimistic, saying, "We are in a full buy mode over here. Yields are coming down and the market is holding up well overall. Eleven thousand seems to be a good range on the Dow and I think it's going to go to 12,500."

The broader

S&P 500

index was down 16, or 1.1%, to 1426, while the small-cap

Russell 2000

was off 1 to 536.

The benchmark 30-year Treasury was up 7/32 to 98 25/32, its yield at 6.22%.

Market Internals

Breadth was negative on both major exchanges, on heavy volume.

New York Stock Exchange:

1,090 advancers, 1,771 decliners, 643 million shares. 86 new 52-week highs, 124 new lows.

Nasdaq Stock Market:

1,712 advancers, 2,258 decliners, 1.1 billion shares. 259 new highs, 57 new lows.

For a look at stocks in the midsession news, see Midday Movers, published separately.