(Updated from 3:30 p.m. EST)
Put a roll of quarters in a tube sock and bash yourself in the face. Now you've got a good idea of how markets felt today.
A huge selloff in technology-related everything dropped some of Wall Street's biggest companies to fresh 52-week lows. Retail goodwill did nothing for the
Dow Jones Industrial Average, which finished down 69 to 10, 731.
Nasdaq Composite Index continued to slide in the wake of
warning last week. To say that technology merely sold off today is a massive understatement -- like saying Jimmy Hoffa has "gone fishin'." The Comp finished down 107 to 2319, a drop of 4.4%.
And this just in --
announced that it will be making several hundred million dollars worth of cuts, deferring executive pay raises, cutting overtime and consultancy work.
Tech was not the place to be,
, as markets chased Friday's big stumble with another glass of ipecac. Biotechs, boxmakers, chipmakers, dot-coms and networkers were all lower. Everything is glued together, and weakness in one sector pulls the others down with it. The
Morgan Stanley High-Technology 35 Index
, which tracks the 35 most-widely held tech companies, was off 3.6%.
Check this out:
- Sun Microsystems (SUNW) - Get Report fell 4% and hit a 52-week low.
Cisco Systems (CSCO) - Get Report fell 7.7% and hit a 52-week low.
Nortel fell 5.7% and hit a 52-week low.
Corning (GLW) - Get Report fell 8.9% and hit a 52-week low.
Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Report fell 9.1% and hit a 52-week low.
Nextel Communications (NXTL) fell 12.5% and hit a 52-week low.
Do you see a pattern yet?
They're not the only ones. A grand total of 113 companies on the Nasdaq hit 52-week lows today.
You can blame visibility issues -- difficulty figuring out if companies are going to make more or less money than last year -- for the big drop in stock prices.
and other suppliers of fiber-optic components had their economic fortunes reduced yet again this morning, throwing yet another shrimp on the tech-based barbecue.
The latest reduction comes courtesy of
, which lowered earnings estimates on JDS Uniphase,
Applied Micro Circuits
. Lehman said it made the revisions because of inventory problems and the companies' limited ability to forecast near-term business growth.
Credit Suisse First Boston
Charlie Glavin jumped into the fray, downgrading PMC-Sierra to hold from buy, citing "industry conditions that have actually gotten worse over the last few weeks." Glavin also cut Applied Micro Circuits to buy from strong buy due to soft March and June orders. Last week, CSFB and
reduced JDS Uniphase's earnings estimates.
visibility is extremely poor as order cancellations and push-outs make it extremely difficult to predict the final outcome of the March quarter, let alone the June quarter," Lehman analyst A. Chanda wrote to investors. "We are therefore reducing our estimates."
Applied Micro Circuits was the only one of the four not to hit a 52-week low. Forget the gauze. Just break out the chalk and start outlining.
Here's Your Moment of Zen
, both of which released earnings this morning, helped kick off a rally in retail. Of course, that's not saying much at all. Briefly, Wal-Mart posted fourth-quarter
earnings that beat estimates, despite a lackluster holiday season. Going forward, it said that first-quarter earnings would be in line with expectations. Home Depot's release was bleaker, coming in with fourth-quarter earnings
that met lowered expectations and were less profitable than last year. That said, the Depot was comfortable with first-quarter estimates.
As a result, Wal-Mart gained 2% and Home Depot gained 2.5%, giving another big boost to the revival in retail so far this year. Today, the
S&P Retail Index
rose 1.9% as a bunch of retail names have sneaked up on 52-week highs over the past seven weeks.
were all at or near new highs today.
Outside of the retail rally, there wasn't that much to talk about. Early in the morning, the Dow got support from many defensive names, like
Johnson & Johnson
, but a rush out of technology easily offset that.
, Intel and
pulled the Dow into the red. The trio added a combined 60 to the Dow's downside, easily the biggest drag on the average and a pretty good indicator of what was going on marketwide today. Tech was getting killed, while nontech names were spared.
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Financials got destroyed today. The
American Stock Exchange Securities Broker/Dealer Index
fell 5.5%, while the
S&P Insurance Index
fell 2.4% and the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index
fell 5.1%. And
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Treasury ended the day slightly up.
The benchmark 10-year
Treasury note lately was up 2/32 at 99 7/32, lowering its yield to 5.111%.
Standard & Poor's
speculative grade credit index, which measures the difference between the yields of government Treasuries and those of bonds rated below BBB+, was at 894.5 basis points, or 8.945%, on Friday. The difference has steadily decreased from a high of 10.74% on Jan. 2, just before the
Federal Reserve began cutting rates. Expectation that the economy will recover with help from the Fed has sent U.S. Treasury prices lower on weakening demand, preventing yields from falling further. (Prices and yields move inversely.) This has contributed to the narrowing of the index.
A recent survey by the
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
estimates that the U.S.
gross domestic product
) should grow by about 2.2% in 2001, down from the 3.3% annual growth that was forecast two months ago. However, that's not likely to jolt the market, as most economists and regional Fed presidents lately have been pegging the growth rate at 2% to 2.5%.
There was no economic news due out today.
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