Selling is escalating across the board, but it's particularly bad in the high-tech industries, where those sectors have had an adverse reaction to today's

Consumer Sentiment

figures, which showed sentiment actually improved in March, a surprise to the market.

Coming on the heels of the news that

Compaq

(CPQ)

is going to miss earnings projections and cut back 5,000 jobs in a restructuring plan, the PC and semiconductor sectors are having another lousy day.

The evidence coming from semiconductor makers and PC companies are that demand remains depressed. The hope is that these sectors, having lived through an economic slowing previously, might be able to rebound more quickly than the more speculative technology sectors, but so far, to no avail. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

lost 3.9% today and the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was down 4.6%.

Compaq, for its part, was lately down 0.8% to $18.33, while

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

, which produces both PCs and mainframes, was the worst performer in the

Dow Jones Industrial Average, lately dropping 4.3% to $91.50, and accounting for 26 points of negativity in the Dow.

Gateway

(GTW)

was down 3.1% to $14.45 and

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

lost 2.7% to $29.86.

The major chipmakers that supply the PC makers,

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

and

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

, were both struggling today, as companies continue to cut back production in response to sluggish demand. Today's industrial production release from the

Federal Reserve shows that capacity utilization -- the level of a company's production capacity that is being used -- has dropped sharply in the technology industries.

Overall, capacity utilization has dropped 3.6% from the third quarter to now, but the technology industry was using 9.5% less capacity in February than it was in the third quarter. The semiconductor industry was using 97% of its production capacity in the third quarter; lately it was using just 80%.

Intel was lately losing 1.3% to $28.12, while AMD was down 0.3% to $23.49.