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(Updated from 1:09 p.m. EDT)

Stocks were still under pressure in afternoon trading, though major indices managed to come slightly off their intraday lows.

The market's time in the sun came to an abrupt end when PC giant


(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report

dropped an earnings warning after the close.

It was just yesterday that investors were bidding stocks higher as talk of a bottom coincided with a hope that the market was close to getting out of the dark tunnel of earnings warnings. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite Index were sporting triple-digit gains at the end of the day. The latest news from Apple crashed that party, however, as investors -- particularly tech fans -- were tossed back into confusion.

Apple said it expects to miss fourth-quarter earnings estimates, prompting a number of downgrades as well as jitters about whether the news is company-specific or a sign of things to come in the PC and hardware sector. Investors dragged Apple's shares into the mud during after-hours trading, cutting the stock's value almost in half.

took a closer look at the

plunge in a piece last night. Lately it was off $27.44, or 51.3%, to $26.06. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

was sliding 11.3%.

The broader market was also having a bad day, with the

Dow Jones Industrial Average and

S&P 500 both down.

And if tech woes are not enough to keep the market down, energy prices made another appearance today as United Airlines parent


(UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Report

blamed its expected quarterly losses partly on higher fuel costs. The stock was lately down 5.4%.

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Sector Watch

In addition to the slaughter among box makers, semiconductors and transports were also bleeding a bit. Natural gas, though, was making some gains.


Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

lost 4.6% in reaction to


(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report

news that business was slow.


Dow Jones Transportation Average

was 2.3% lower, thanks to the earnings warning from


TheStreet Recommends

(UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Report

. That warning was taking down fellow components

Delta Air Lines

(DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. Report


US Airways



Northwest Airlines


. It also, unsurprisingly, socked the

American Stock Exchange Airline Index

, which lost 3.5%.


American Stock Exchange Natural Gas Index

rose 2.3%. It was lifted by nearly every component, with

Anadarko Petroleum

(APC) - Get Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Report


Enron Oil & Gas

(EOG) - Get EOG Resources, Inc. (EOG) Report

leading the charge.

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Treasuries are stronger, thanks to slumping stocks and the calendar, which traditionally favors the Treasury market on the last business day of the quarter. Pressure to own safe, liquid assets for appearance's sake often prompts buying of Treasuries by portfolio managers who report their holdings on the last day of the quarter, bond market analysts say.

The day's most important economic indicator, the

Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index


definition |

chart ), was stronger than expected. It rose to 51.4 in September from 46.5 in August, indicating renewed expansion in the manufacturing sector.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was up 6/32 to 99 24/32, its yield at 5.78%.

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