Updated from 3:20 p.m. EST

Several high-profile profit warnings ignited waves of selling in tech shares Thursday, hammering in the

Nasdaq and dragging the

Dow down with it.

The Nasdaq finished down 65 points, or 3.2%, at 1947, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 128 points, or 1.3%, to 9766. The

S&P 500 was off about 18 points, or 1.5%, to 1119.

Also weighing on the averages was a Commerce Department report that showed retail sales fell 3.7% in November, dragged down by an 11.9% fall in car sales. The consensus estimate was for a 3.1% decline. Meanwhile the Labor Department reported better-than-expected initial jobless claims for the week ended Dec. 8. The number of persons filing first-time applications fell to 394,000 from 480,000 the previous week. Economists were expecting the number to come in at 465,000.

Lucent

(LU)

shocked the market before the opening bell by saying it will post a wider-than-expected loss in its first quarter, although it expects improvement as the year progresses. Shares of the communications equipment maker fell $1.20, or 15.5%, to $6.53.

Ciena

(CIEN) - Get Report

told analysts it expects first-quarter revenue to tumble 30% to 40% to $221 million to $257 million, well below the $349 million consensus. Shares of the optical networking outfit fell sharply, losing $3.03, or 16.9%, to $14.94.

Aetna

(AET)

said it will cut 6,000 jobs, or about 17% of its total workforce, and take a $125 million restructuring charge in the fourth quarter to contend with increasing medical expenses and unprofitable membership in government-sponsored health plans. The company said a majority of the cuts will come via layoffs and the remainder through attrition. The stock shed 30 cents to close at $30.74.

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

announced after the close Wednesday that it will lay off 1,700 employees, or 10% of its staff, as revenue dropped 20% in the fourth quarter. The company's shares were under pressure, losing $3.79, or 8.45% at $41.08.

Networking giant

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

was feeling pressure in the last hour of trading, finishing down $1.49, or 7.27% to $19.01.

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

is reportedly engaged in advanced discussions to acquire

Immunex

(IMNX)

in a deal that is potentially worth upwards of $30 a share.

HotJobs.com

(HOTJ)

was also active following an unsolicited buyout offer from

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

. Shares of the online recruiting firm jumped $3.83, or 59.2%, to $10.30.

McGraw-Hill

(MHP)

updated guidance for fiscal 2001, saying it now expects 6% to 8% earnings growth and 8% to 10% revenue growth for 2001. The company forecasts a net profit for the current year of $2.54 to $2.59 per share. Analysts were expecting $2.42 a share.

Stocks were lower overseas, with London's FTSE 100 closing down 0.9% to 5075 and Germany's Xetra DAX sinking below the psychologically important 5000 level, losing 1.8% to 4970. Japan's Nikkei fell sharply, losing 3.4% to 10,433, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 2.7% to 11,530.

The U.S. government played a videotape on television this morning in which Osama bin Laden claimed prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Meanwhile a second effort to arrange a surrender of al-Quaeda members in the mountains around the Afghan region of Tora Bora fell through and U.S. bombing resumed in the area.

At 4 p.m. EST, the 10-year Treasury note was down 19/32 to 99 12/32, yielding 5.08%.