Optimism is out the window again today, with this morning's release of the February

Consumer Confidence Index

falling to its lowest level in four years.

That

along with a weaker-than-expected

durable goods order have helped bring down the major indices today.

The

Nasdaq Composite Index has acted like a stubborn child all day, not budging from its stance in the downside. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average, meanwhile, was unwilling to commit to either side, but lately was also in the red.

Yesterday, the market saw hefty gains in the Dow and the Comp after both had been battered last week. The Comp lately was wiping out all gains it made Monday.

There wasn't much company news out to really get the market moving today, so investors and traders were putting all their attention on the aforementioned economic news, which was driving them to spend this

Shrove Tuesday praying to see the

Federal Reserve jump in with an intermeeting interest rate cut.

The Consumer Confidence Index fell to 106.8 in February from 115.7 in January, its fifth consecutive decline. Conference Board officials did not characterize the figure as indicative of recession, but rather of a severe economic downturn.

On the durable goods order side, excluding the volatility in transportation orders, today's figure was about as weak as expected, meaning the underlying trend in manufacturing is still poor. Durable goods orders dropped 6% in January on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Obviously, neither piece of news was able to help out tech, which continued the suffering that was started earlier this month.

Business-to-business software makers were especially under pressure.

i2 Technologies

(ITWO)

, down 19.5% to $28.56, was singled out after its customer

Nike

(NKE) - Get Report

blamed software problems as well as too much inventory and order delays for missing third-quarter estimates. Nike was dropping 20.3% to $39.02.

It wasn't i2's day, which saw its earnings estimates cut by Goldman Sachs. Also, on Goldman's chopping block were software leaders

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

,

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

,

PeopleSoft

(PSFT)

,

Ariba

(ARBA)

and

Commerce One

(CMRC)

. Of those cut, only Microsoft was in the positive, up 0.1% to $59.69.

Bank of America

also got out the shears on a slew of software issues, including i2 as well as

Siebel Systems

(SEBL)

and

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

. Siebel was down 11.7% to $42.88 and SAP was off 0.9% to $39.20.

The two firms made the cuts because of the slowing economy and the continued weakness in tech spending.

Other sectors were hurting today, with networkers

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

and

Juniper

(JNPR) - Get Report

, and communication chipmakers

Applied Micro Circuits

(AMCC)

and

PMC-Sierra

(PMCS)

, all hitting 52-week lows today.

The Dow lately was about split evenly between those in the positive and those in the negative.

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

and

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

were the biggest detractors, while defensive

Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Report

was smoking, nearing a 52-week high. It was 3.8% higher to $48.26.

Sector Watch

Yep, Philip Morris was fighting the good fight for the Dow, but also it and its cronies were pushing up the

American Stock Exchange Tobacco Index

2%.

Investors were jumping into insurance, with the

S&P Insurance Index

up 2.6%.

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Bonds/Economy

Investors were looking at bonds to store their cash. The long-bonds were the place to be for big gains today, as the 10-year Treasury gained 22/32 to 100 12/32 with a yield of 4.952%. Both the 5-year and 30-year had big gains, too, while the shorter maturities suffered.

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