The

Nasdaq Composite Indexand the

Dow Jones Industrial Average behaved badly today.

So badly, in fact, that at one point they both were racking up triple-digit losses. They popped a bit right at the bell, but the losses were deep enough to inflict some major damage to sentiment since both have just about wiped out any gains they've made so far this year.

Tech stocks were again out of favor with investors thanks in part to bad news from software-maker

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

and PC-giant

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

as well as continuing negativity for networking giant

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

.

Oracle was the victim of some cautious comments from

Morgan Stanley

analyst Chuck Phillips after he attended a dinner where the company's CEO Larry Ellison talked of weakness in the company's database business. Also raising flags, Ellison has sold about 27 million of his shares, worth about $850 million, between Jan. 22 and Jan. 29, according to filings with the

Securities & Exchange Commission

. Oracle fell 13.1% to $23.56.

Dell was under pressure from

reports that it was cutting expenses by up to 10% and that it may cut as many as 4,000 jobs. The stock ended the day down 9.8% to $23.50.

Cisco continued to bleed, falling 6% to $28.19. It was the most actively traded stock on the Nasdaq for the third straight day. In a post-close announcement Tuesday, the company

announced that it missed earnings targets for the first time in three years and gave a murky forecast for the future.

On the

Big Board, the ever-troubled communications-equipment maker

Lucent

(LU)

was taking a beating, after the

Wall Street Journal

reported that it is being investigated by the SEC for possible fraudulent accounting practices. Specifically, the SEC is investigating whether Lucent improperly booked $679 million in revenue during its 2000 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. The stock was off 9.1%, about $2 away from its low hit in late December of $13.50.

But that news wasn't any huge surprise. Lucent already did its own investigation of the revenue booking and in December restated its financial results to eliminate the $679 million in revenue. And with so much bad news already priced into the stock, investors probably wonder how much further it can fall.

After five disappointing quarters, a string of high-level executive firings and a round of lower-level layoffs, the company's stock price is already down 78% from the highs of last year.

TheStreet.com

took a look at Lucent's

approach to accounting early on, and has been following Lucent's

other woes.

Finnish mobile-phone maker

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

was off 6.8% to $27.99 after

UBS Warburg

removed the mobile-phone giant from its list of top 10 global technology stock picks. That move helped put drag on the overseas markets, with Nokia falling 9% in Europe.

Also not looking good today was

Power One

(PWER)

, which makes power supply systems, on news that it was lowering its 2001 growth estimates. The company cited slowing business and inventory reductions by its customers, particularly the aforementioned Cisco. It was down 10.7% to $28.75.

One shining star was network storage systems maker

Network Appliance

(NTAP) - Get Report

, which was up 8% to $38 after its earnings report from Thursday night. The bounce was a nice relief from the drag it experienced this week after being caught up in the Cisco conundrum.

The company reported fiscal third-quarter earnings that beat estimates after the market closed Thursday. But the company's sales came in a bit below forecasts, an uncharacteristic shortfall for a company well positioned in one of the fastest growing technology markets. It is yet another sign that corporations aren't spending as freely on tech gear as they once were.

TheStreet.com's

Thomas Lepri

took a look at

what the report means for Network Appliance.

Meanwhile, the Dow was under pressure from its tech stocks, including

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

, which got a downgrade from

Merrill Lynch

yesterday with a warning about the maturing PC market.

Adding to the negative side was the world's largest retailer

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

, which had started out with a rally trying to recover some of the losses it and most of the retailing sector took on the chin yesterday, but succumbed to the pull again. It ended the day down 3.6% to $50.40.

But home improvement retailer

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

was able to edge up thanks to news from its competitor

Lowe's

(LOW) - Get Report

that the company will meet lowered fourth-quarter earnings estimates. Also,

Goldman Sachs

added Lowe's to its U.S. Recommended for Purchase list.

Back to top

Market Internals

Back to top

Most Active Stocks

Back to top

Sector Watch

Defensives relished this latest bit of weakness in tech stocks, with oil, tobacco and drug stocks moving to the upside.

Blue-chip

ExxonMobil

(XOM) - Get Report

was up 1.6% to $85.86. The stock's been beaten down in the past couple days, so the recovery was a nice breather for the stock. The

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

was 2.1% higher.

The

American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index

rose 0.5% and the

American Stock Exchange Tobacco Index

jumped 1.4%, off a bit from hitting its all-time high of 348.50.

There was one pocket of tech that wasn't being completely killed today. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was off only 0.7% after spending most of the day in positive territory. The decline occurred despite that lovable

Rambus

(RMBS) - Get Report

, which rose 7.3% to $45.38. It was getting a nice boost from news that Japanese company

Toshiba

will more than triple its output of Rambus DRAM chips, which use technology from Rambus that speeds up memory chip performance. The faster chips are twice the price of commodity DRAMs and are used by

Sony

(SNE) - Get Report

to make 3-D graphics for its PlayStation 2 and by

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

for its new Pentium 4 microprocessor.

Back to top

Bonds/Economy

Treasury prices are up as weakness in equities has brought investors' focus back to notes and bonds. The money market is also consolidating after absorbing $32 billion in government debt that was auctioned over the last three days. The long end of the market is showing greater strength, with the 30-year up by a half-point.

A $5 billion auction of three-year notes from

Freddie Mac

(FRE)

should keep the trading volume up today. Next week, $21 billion worth of three- and six-month Treasury bills will be sold.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was up 15/32 to 99 25/32, lowering its yield to 5.028%.

Analysts will once again be hoping for

Federal Reserve chairman

Alan Greenspan to hint of more rate cuts as he addresses the

Senate Banking Committee

on Tuesday. In the wake of the Fed's two January cuts, the

Bank of England

cut interest rates yesterday and the Japanese central bank followed through with a cut overnight.

Treasury Secretary

Paul O'Neill

said in his round of conversations with television networks yesterday that he agrees with Greenspan's recent view that the economy is near zero growth. O'Neill estimates the present growth rate at 0.5% - 0 .6%. But he expressed confidence that technology-led productivity gains would take the nation to a "golden era of economic prosperity" as 80% of their contribution was still to be realized. His statements suggest that last quarter's higher-than-expected productivity gains amid a weakening economy were due to structural improvements in supply-chain management techniques.

There is no economic news today.

Back to top

International

European markets were weak. Paris'

CAC-40

fell 61 to 5712; Frankfurt's

Xetra Dax

dropped 126 to 6511, and London's

FTSE

was off 42 to 6164.

Japan, meanwhile, still trying to sift through the wreckage of stagnation, said today it was attempting to find ways to prop up its stock market, a day after the

Nikkei 225

hit a 28-month low. That index rose today, gaining 284.60 to 13,422.83, a 2.2% rise. Meanwhile, the

Bank of Japan

, that country's central bank, cut its key interest rate to 0.35% from 0.5%. About two years ago, Japan had a zero-interest rate policy, but began raising rates when the economy showed some signs of recovery.

In Hong Kong, the

Hang Seng

lost 36.12 to 15,873.28.

Back to top