Stocks End Mixed as Plane Fears Abate

Tech shares finish higher, while the Dow is only modestly lower on the day.
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Updated from 3:29 p.m. EST

Stocks fought back from steep losses and closed mixed as indications emerged that the crash of a jetliner in the New York City borough of Queens wasn't terrorist-related.

The

Dow lost 53.63 points, or 0.6%, to 9554.37. The

Nasdaq was up 11.65 points, or 0.6%, to 1840.13, and the

S&P 500 slipped 1.98 points, or 0.2%, to 1118.33. The Dow initially plunged about 190 points on news of the crash, while the Nasdaq went as many as 40 points lower.

American Airlines Flight 587 crashed with 255 people aboard near John F. Kennedy International Airport shortly after 9 a.m. EST in the Rockaway Beach section of Queens. Local residents told

TheStreet.com

the plane went into a nosedive before crashing and said burning debris was scattered in a 10-block radius, igniting numerous fires. The flight was departing New York en route to the Dominican Republic.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said late in the day that 161 bodies had been recovered from the crash site.

The

Associated Press

quoted an unnamed law enforcement source who said there was no early indication of terrorist involvement. New York City's three area airports were closed down, as were most major bridges and tunnels, in what Giuliani described as a precaution, but they were in various stages of reopening throughout the afternoon.

European markets, which were already trading lower Monday, sold off on the news. The FTSE 100 closed down about 1.9% at 5146, while Germany's Xetra DAX ended 1.8% lower to 4820. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed down 1.3% at 10,082, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.2% to end the session at 10,592.

The crash took a toll on already battered airline and hotel shares, with American's owner,

AMR

(AMR)

, losing $1.73, or 9.5%, to $16.40, while

UAL

(UAL) - Get Report

lost 76 cents, or 7%, to $10.16.

Delta

(DAL) - Get Report

was down $2.69, or 10.4%, to $23.30.

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

, which made the jet's engines, shed 76 cents, or 1.9%, to $39.65.

Earlier, traders at the New York Stock Exchange described a listless and disappointed trading floor that nervously awaited details of the crash.

"It's somber," said Bob Basel, director of listed trading at Solomon Smith Barney. "Everything's just pressed up against the situation in Queens, as opposed to being worried about the fundamentals of the marketplace right now."

The scene outside of the exchange was equally subdued. Traders on cigarette breaks milled around in the cold, saying little. "No one's focusing on trading, but just watching TV, and just hoping it's not a terrorist attack," said a trading clerk, who declined to be named.

Peter Blatchford, a trader at Miller Tabak, hoped for the best. The market "will resume this morning's rally that they were trying for" and close on a strong note if the crash turns out to be "a legitimate accident," he said. But for now, "It's certainly uneasy trying to ascertain whether this was a real accident or terrorist-related."

The Nasdaq was being bolstered by

Ciena

(CIEN) - Get Report

, which said earlier it expects fourth-quarter profits to exceed current analysts' expectations. In addition, the company will trim its workforce by 380 jobs, about 10% of its staff, and take a restructuring charge of $15 million to $16 million. Shares of Ciena jumped $1.67, or 9.7%, to $18.85.

Friday,

Dynegy

(DYN)

ended speculation by saying it agreed to acquire energy-trading rival

Enron

(ENE)

for $8 billion in stock. The deal includes assumed debt that gives the transaction a total value of as much as $24 billion. Both Dynegy and Enron finished the session sharply higher.

In Afghanistan, opposition forces reportedly are fighting in the strategic western city of Herat and are ready to begin an assault on the capital, Kabul.

Yi Ping Ho contributed to this story