Unhappiness prevails on the Street.

Since Friday, talk had made a

Fed move before its next meeting on March 20 seem likely, but Fed Chairman

Alan Greenspan's speech before the

House Finance Committee

quashed that belief and sent the major stock market indices tumbling.

Although Greenspan indicated he sees slowing in economic growth and a decline in consumer confidence, the

speech was largely the same as one he delivered two weeks ago before the Senate. His words did not suggest an intermeeting cut was at hand.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average and the

Nasdaq Composite Index were dropping with nothing out there to rev investors' engines. Only negative earnings news and crummy research notes abounded.

Altera

(ALTR) - Get Report

was the object of scorn today and dragging chip stocks lower thanks to a

post-close warning Tuesday. It saw

UBS Warburg

and

Lehman Brothers

come out with their scissors to

trim earnings estimates. The stock has been up and down all day, but lately was (surprise!) on the upside. It was lately 1.3% higher.

Altera's fallout hit

Xilinx

(XLNX) - Get Report

, which also got socked with an estimate

cut by Lehman. It was off 1.9%. And

Elantec Semiconductor

(ELNT)

created its own

problems when it came out with a warning for its second quarter, citing weakening demand in the PC industry. Hold on to your hat. The stock was dropping 36.9%.

In the past couple weeks,

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

, rival of networking giant

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

, has been suffering along with most of tech. About two weeks ago, the company got a nice boost from news that

Merrill Lynch

started coverage of the stock with an accumulate and set its 12- to 18-month price target at $110. Today, Lehman begged to differ. It slashed the stock's target price target to $100 from $175, helping to send it down 1.5% to $61.88. Earlier in the day, it hit a new 52-week low.

The blue-chip Dow was suffering from widespread weakness.

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

,

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

United Technologies

(UTX) - Get Report

were helping to drag the index lower.

Elsewhere on the

Big Board,

RadioShack

(RSH)

was jumping 3.2% to $42.12 after the electronics retailer was started at

Prudential Securities

as a strong buy with a 12-month price target of $54. The company announced it had entered into a deal with video rental chain

Blockbuster

(BBI) - Get Report

through which RadioShack would sell its products inside the video-rental stores.

Sector Watch

With no real hope for an intermeeting cut, financials were getting hit hard. The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

was 3.8% lower and the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index

was down 2%.

Interest-rate sensitive blue-chips

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

,

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

and Citibank were all on the downside.

Investors weren't even seeking shelter in the safety of gold/ The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index

was dropping 2.9%. The index has lately gotten a nice bounce from frightened investors fleeing to that which is usually the ultimate defensive.

Still, not all defensives were on the slide -- drugmakers doing fairly well. The

American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index

was rising 0.9%.

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Bonds/Economy

Treasuries are mixed as traders realize they will probably have to wait until late in March for an interest rate cut. Short-dated securities, which are more sensitive to revisions in short-term lending rates, are moving positively after having slipped earlier today. The long bond is down slightly, while its yield has not changed much.

Greenspan he once again

expressed concern about the economy, reiterating to Congress that he expects a slow recovery and possibly more dips before the eventual pickup. Though his words clearly point to further rate cutting, his remarks also snuffed out hopes the Fed would move before its next scheduled meeting on March 20.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was up 3/32 to 100 14/32, lowering its yield to 4.944%.

In economic news, a revised reading of the

gross domestic product

(

definition |

chart |

source

), which measures the rate at which goods and services are produced in the nation, is at 1.1% for the fourth quarter of last year. That's its slowest rate of growth since the second quarter of 1995, when it was 0.3% lower. Still, it is slightly above the 1.0% predicted by economists.

The latest

Mortgage Applications Survey

(

definition |

chart |

source

) detected an increase in the purchase of new units, but a decrease in home refinancings. For the week ended Feb. 23, the purchase index rose to 291.4 from the 274.3 in the previous week. The refinancing index fell to 2140.4 from 2346.1. Greenspan mentioned the relatively strong showing in home and automobile sales as a sign that some sections of the economy are holding steady.

The

Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index

(

definition |

chart ) rose to 43.2 during February after falling to 40.2 for January. The gauge indicates a contraction in the manufacturing sector when below 50, so it still clearly indicates that sector of the economy is in recession.

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