Tech Stocks Lead Market Lower

Oil is a bit lower. The dollar drops.
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Updated from 4:05 p.m. EDT

Tech stocks led to the downside for a third straight session Monday, as sky-high oil prices and a falling dollar squelched risk appetites amid another big week for corporate earnings.

The

Nasdaq

dropped 9.48 points, or 0.4%, to 2333.38, bringing its three-day decline to 37 points, or 1.6%. The index was weighed by a 0.7% decline in the Philadelphia Semiconductor Sector index. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

fell 11.13 points, or 0.1%, to 11,336.32, and the

S&P 500

was off 3.17 points, or 0.24%, at 1308.11.

The 10-year Treasury bond was up 6/32 in price to yield 4.98%. The dollar fell sharply against the yen and was also lower against the euro.

"It's not too surprising that tech stocks took a beating since they have not been a leadership group of late," said Ken Tower, chief market strategist with CyberTrader. "While tech has been languishing, basic materials, energy and industrial stocks have been reaching new highs. These may be tiring, but it seems too early to abandon them yet."

About 1.51 billion shares traded on the

New York Stock Exchange

, and volume on the Nasdaq was 1.98 billion shares. Decliners outpaced advancers 5 to 3.

The dollar fell after finance ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized nations called for currency liberalization in China after a weekend meeting in Washington. Asian stocks also slumped on the news, with the Nikkei losing 490 points, or 2.8%, to 16,914, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng falling 130 points, or 0.8%, to 16,783.

"Greater exchange-rate flexibility is desirable in emerging economies with large current account surpluses, especially China, for necessary adjustments to occur," the G7 advised. "In emerging Asia, particularly China, greater flexibility in exchange rates is critical to allow necessary appreciations, as is strengthening domestic demand, lessening reliance on export-led growth strategies and actions to strengthen financial sectors."

To view Gregg Greenberg's video take on today's market, click here

.

Oil, after closing at an all-time high Friday on concerns about the nuclear standoff in Iran, fell sharply. June crude finished down $1.84 to $73.33 a barrel.

Gold and silver also traded lower Monday. The Comex gold contract lost $11.60 to $623.90 an ounce, while silver futures finished down $1.19 to $11.77 an ounce.

"The commodities jumped on Friday after being decimated on Thursday," said Marc Pado, market strategist with Cantor Fitzgerald. "The action in commodities and energy doesn't seem to be taking its toll on market sentiment. It is unlikely that the market will be able to ignore these high energy and commodity costs for much longer."

Stocks are coming off a volatile weak marked by divergent earnings news and generally dovish emanations from the

Federal Reserve

. Since last Monday, the Dow is up 1.9% to a six-year high of 11,347, while the S&P 500 has added 1.7% to 1311 and the Nasdaq is up 0.7% 2343.

Monday's economic cupboard is bare, but it was a relatively busy day for earnings. Thomson Financial said Monday that 35% of S&P 500 companies have reported for the quarter so far, with average actual earnings up 11.6%. The S&P 500 is on pace for an 11th straight quarter of double-digit growth.

"The profit picture for the first-quarter looks fairly positive," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist with Spencer Clarke LLC. "Based on data from Thomson, with just over 30% of the S&P 500 having reported, close to 70% of earnings have come in better than expected. Once again, though, we have positive earnings reports impacted by higher oil prices and bond yields."

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

posted first-quarter earnings of $840 million, or $1.20 a share, up from $581 million, or 81 cents a share, last year. Sales increased to $9.39 billion from $8.34 billion a year ago. The Thomson First Call consensus was for earnings of $1.05 on sales of $8.7 billion. The company also raised its full-year earnings outlook. Caterpillar dropped 49 cents, or 0.6%, to $77.38.

Fellow Dow component

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

said first-quarter earnings fell 8% to $873 million, or 69 cents a share, from a year ago. Revenue grew 12% to $6.33 billion from last year. The Thomson First Call consensus was for EPS of 69 cents on revenue of $6.35 billion. Shares were off 47 cents, or 0.9%, to close at $51.78.

Kimberly-Clark

(KMB) - Get Report

said first-quarter earnings fell to $275.1 million, or 60 cents a share, from $450.1 million, or 93 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding items, earnings were 93 cents a share, beating the consensus by a penny. Kimberly-Clark also offered full-year guidance that was in line with analysts' estimates. The stock added $1.33, or 2.3%, to $58.52.

Hasbro

(HAS) - Get Report

reported a first-quarter loss of $4.9 million, or 3 cents a share, compared with an adjusted loss of $7.2 million, or 4 cents a share, last year. Revenue rose 3% to $468.2 million. Hasbro lost 11 cents, or 0.5%, to $20.82.

Novartis

(NVS) - Get Report

reported first-quarter earnings of $2 billion on a 13% rise in sales to $8.3 billion. The company guided for full-year sales growth in the high single digits following the completion of its acquisition of

Chiron

(CHIR) - Get Report

. Novartis was up 15 cents, or 0.3%, to finish at $57.39.

Heinz

(HNZ)

affirmed its earnings guidance for this year and next and said a restructuring blueprint should underpin a turnaround. Heinz sees earnings of $2.10 to $2.16 a share this year; analysts were forecasting $2.11 a share. Heinz fell 51 cents, or 1.3%, to $39.33.

Cendant

(CD)

might revise plans to spin off its travel unit after seeing unsolicited offers to acquire the business for as much as $4.5 billion. The company hired investment bankers to explore options for the unit, which includes Orbitz, among other units. Cendant rose 64 cents, or 3.8%, to $17.49.

Xerox

(XRX) - Get Report

reported first-quarter results of $200 million, or 20 cents a share, down slightly from $210 million, or 20 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue slipped 2% to $3.7 billion from last year. The Thomson First Call consensus was for earnings of 21 cents a share on revenue of $3.82 billion. Shares were off 80 cents, or 5.4%, to close at $14.

After the bell,

Sun Micro

(SUNW) - Get Report

lost $217 million, or 6 cents a share, widening from a loss of $28 million, or a penny a share, last year. Results matched the Thomson First Call average consensus. During Monday's session the stock added 5 cents, or 1%, to $4.98 and traded higher in the after-hours session.

On Tuesday, results are expected from

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

,

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

,

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

,

Lockheed Martin

(LMT) - Get Report

and

U.S. Steel

(X) - Get Report

, among others.

Away from earnings,

Washington Mutual

(WM) - Get Report

said it is acquiring

Commercial Capital Bancorp

(CCBI)

for $16 a share, or $983 million, a 13% premium to the stock's closing price Friday. The move is expected to boost Washington Mutual's presence in California.

Washington Mutual fell 56 cents, or 1.2%, to $44.45. Commericial Capital finished the session up $1.54, or 10.9%, to $15.69.

Among ratings moves, Goldman Sachs raised retailer

Target

(TGT) - Get Report

to outperform from in-line, citing valuation. The firm also downgraded

Kohl's

(KSS) - Get Report

to in-line from outperform.

Target gained 95 cents, or 1.9%, to $51.80. Kohl's lost 24 cents, or 0.4%, to $54.12.

Credit Suisse raised its rating for

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

to neutral from underperform, citing a better outlook for the gas industry. The firm also upped its price target to $80 from $68. ConocoPhillips fell $2.66, or 3.7%, to $69.84.

Prudential Equity upgraded

U.S. Airways

(LCC)

to overweight from neutral-weight, citing an increasingly positive outlook for the airline. The firm raised its stock price target to $48 from $40. The stock added $4.16, or 11%, to $41.89.

European equities edged lower. London's FTSE was down 0.6% to 6099, and Frankfurt's Xetra DAX slipped 0.3% to 6079.