NEW YORK -- A report showing consumer confidence at more than a four-year low sent technology stocks tumbling today on fears about the economy and the Federal Reserve's ability to reverse its decline. The selloff also reflected Wall Street's worries that the data might not be weak enough to persuade the Fed to cut interest rates before its March 20 meeting.
Dow falls 5.65;
Nasdaq sinks 101
"I think the expectation was building that we would get an intra-meeting cut but when nothing happened today, the market sold off," said Jon Brorson, director of equities at Northern Trust. "People are waiting for a catalyst, like a Fed rate cut, before jumping back in and buying tech stocks."
The Nasdaq composite index closed down 100.68 at 2,207.82. This is its lowest close since Dec. 31, 1998, when the technology-focused gauge finished at 2,192.69.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 5.65 to 10,636.88, keeping most of the 200-point gain it racked up yesterday on speculation that an interest-rate cut was imminent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 9.71 to 1,257.94.
Decliners led advancers 8 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange, with 1,589 down, 1,452 up and 220 unchanged. Volume was 1.10 billion shares vs. 1.12 billion yesterday. The NYSE composite index fell 1.03 to 633.46, the American Stock Exchange composite index dropped 1.43 to 908.00 and the Russell 2000 index fell 9.56 to 478.75. The Treasury's 10-year note rose 21/32 to 100 13/32; its yield fell 8 basis points to 4.95 percent. The 30-year bond jumped 1 to 100 11/32; its yield fell 8 basis points to 5.35 percent.
Tech stocks remained under pressure today as investors punished stocks they feared would perform poorly in a weak economy. Some of the biggest losers: JDS Uniphase, which tumbled $4.81 to $27.81, and Cisco Systems, which fell $2.06 to $24.