The aftermath of biting into a soggy beef-filled taco would've been cleaner than the market's performance today.

And the performance of the

Nasdaq Composite Index

and the

Russell 2000

wasn't just sloppy -- it was downright awful.

Well before the opening bell, the market was actually on the way to a firm session. Stock index futures were indicating a positive open for the market, but that changed quickly on news that influential strategist

Abby Joseph Cohen

of

Goldman Sachs

cut her recommendation for stocks in her model portfolio. Word of Cohen's move to slice her recommended exposure to stocks by 5 percentage points to 65%, while upping cash by the same amount, sent futures tumbling. Cohen's model portfolio now looks like this: 65% equities, 27% fixed-income, 5% cash and 3% commodities.

Cohen, in a note, did add that she still expects "the

S&P 500

to easily reach 1575 by year-end 2000 and 1625 within 12 months."

The news of the allocation cut soured the market's mood and led to selling out of the gate. Cohen's allocation altering also took some of the blame for the pressure the market was under for the rest of the session.

Also, Cohen wrote that "as a consequence of relative performance, we no longer are overweight in technology or consumer staples. Financials have been assigned the largest recommended overweight relative to S&P 500. Other overweights include pharmaceuticals and selected basic materials and energy-related stocks."

TheStreet.com

took a

look at some other Wall Street strategists' recommended allocations in a story this afternoon.

Intel, Sun Help to Whack the Comp

In the end, major stock proxies closed the session softer, with the biggest losses suffered by the Nasdaq Comp and the Russell 2000.

The Comp tumbled 124.67, or 2.5%, to 4833.89. Sizable stumbles in shares of

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

and

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

helped doom the Comp. Also, deep losses in Internet, telecommunications, semiconductor and computer-related stocks dragged on the Comp.

Shares of

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

gained a bit after getting hammered yesterday.

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom

reported on Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's move to delay his verdict for up to 10 days as the company continues to seek a settlement in with the government. Microsoft rose 1/4 to 104 5/16 but traded as high as 107 7/16 earlier.

Scott Curtis, senior equity trader at

Brown Brothers Harriman

, said the market was dealing with a bunch of cross currents, including some churning before the end of the quarter, some window-dressing and the negative influence of Cohen's allocation action.

The Russell 2000 slumped 14.61, or 2.6%, to 559.04.

Watching Key Support Levels

Meanwhile, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

gave up 89.74, or 0.8%, to 10,936.11. Reflecting the action in the market, the Dow's tech components weighed heavily on the average. Intel,

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

and

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

were the biggest drags on the Dow.

Greg Nie, chief technical analyst at

First Union Securities

in Chicago, highlighted some key support levels going forward for the market. For the Dow, he pointed to 10,818, its 200-day moving average, and 10,625, the gauge's 50-day moving average. Nie cited 4400 to 4500 as important for the Comp.

The

S&P 500

shed 16.13, or 1.1%, to 1507.73.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index said goodbye to 43.88, or 3.5%, to 1217.09. The biggest loser in the DOT was

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

, which tumbled 16, or 6.7%, to 223 13/16.

TheStreet.com New Tech 30

surrendered 11.37, or 1.4%, to 806.13. The TSC New Tech 30, unveiled Jan. 5, is a market-cap-weighted index focused on tracking the most scorching part of the market, the magnet for Wall Street's hot money. A list of the index components is available at

http://www.thestreet.com/newtech/.

In the fixed-income world, Treasuries didn't provide much excitement, although the market ended the session higher. The 10-year note was up 9/32 to 102 17/32, yielding 6.15%. The 30-year Treasury bond was up 3/32 to 103 27/32, putting its yield at 5.97%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's

Bond Focus.)

Sector-wise, airline stocks hopped. The

American Stock Exchange Airline Index

rallied 4.3%.

UAL

(UAL) - Get Report

, parent of

United Airlines

, gained 2 5/16 to 59 5/16 on a positive earnings outlook issued after yesterday's close.

Not hurting was the fact that crude oil futures sold off on the

New York Mercantile Exchange

.

Speaking of oil, oil service stocks slumped, while oil producers were little changed as the market awaited official word of the outcome of the big

OPEC

meeting in Vienna. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

gave up 2.3%. The

Chicago Board Options Exchange Oil Index

fell fractionally to close at 272.90.

An Improving Mood Ahead

Looking ahead, Nie said he thinks investors' mood will improve in April. He said that feeling in the market will be provided by the positive background of the upcoming earnings season and on the perception stemming from positive retirement-account inflows.

Whether the market can turn that constructive mood into a tradable rally is another thing, the technician said. For that to happen, Nie said, the market needs to put up some stronger breadth statistics.

In

New York Stock Exchange

trading, 955 million shares were exchanged while declining stocks beat advancers 1,656 to 1,351. In

Nasdaq Stock Market

action, 1.5 billion shares traded while losers defeated winners 2,765 to 1,522. New 52-week lows edged new highs 59 to 55 on the NYSE while new lows beat new highs 95 to 62 in over-the-counter trading.

Volume, compared with the way it's been running this year, was light, said Curtis of Brown Brothers Harriman. Now a day of sub-billion-share volume on the Big Board is kind of a light day, he said.

Among other indices, the

Dow Jones Utility Average

fell 6.35, or 2.2%, to 284.35; the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

rose 13.16, or 0.5%, to 2680.97; while the

American Stock Exchange Composite Index

fell 7.36, or 0.7%, to 1016.51.

For coverage of today's top stocks in the news, see the Company Report, published separately

.