- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) Stocks fell sharply yesterday, pulling the Nasdaq Composite Index below 3,000 for the first time in more than a year, after Hewlett-Packard became the latest high-tech company to announce disappointing earnings. Bargain hunting late in the session helped offset some of the losses.

The slide continued a downturn triggered last week by a series of bleak earnings reports and forecasts. Analysts, saying volatility remains the only constant on Wall Street, cautioned against reading too much into the late rebound, which briefly lifted the Nasdaq into positive territory.

The technology-dominated index fell 62.27 to 2,966.72, after earlier tumbling 169 points to 2,859.30, its lowest trading level since Oct. 28 of last year.

The last time the Nasdaq traded and closed below 3,000 was Nov. 2, 1999. The index is now down 41.2 percent from its high close of 5,048.62, reached this past March 10.

Blue chips also suffered. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 85.70 to 10,517.25, although it recovered from an earlier loss of 233 points.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index closed down 14.72 at 1,351.26.

Analysts say the uncertainty created by the debate over the winner of the presidential election is intensifying, but not causing, the volatility.

"The bear market that we've been talking about for a while is simply continuing. It's getting nasty and vicious," said Gary Kaltbaum, a technical analyst at JWGenesis. "Too many people are saying that this is because of the election and it's not. This is simply a slowdown in [economic] growth, and these are stocks with too-high valuations."

Hewlett-Packard, the computer and printer maker, fell $4.44, or 11 percent, to $34.81. The company said yesterday its fiscal fourth-quarter results per share were 10 cents below the expectation of Wall Street analysts.

H-P, a Dow component, joined other big high-tech firms that have released disappointing earnings news and unnerved Wall Street. Last week, Dell Computer's revenue figures prompted investors to unload its stock, and the selling spread to other tech issues and the broader market.

Dell was among the many high-tech stocks that recovered late in yesterday's session. It rose $1.13 to $24.13.

Chip maker Intel climbed $1.19 to $38.19 after spending much of the day with a loss. Networking equipment maker Cisco Systems rose 31 cents to $50.38. IBM closed up $3.38 at $97.50.

"You've had such contraction in technology stocks and their value, that now they look even more attractive," said Brian Belski, a fundamental-market strategist at US Bancorp Piper Jaffray, who said investors remain unsure of the market's direction. "That's what a lot of this buying was, particularly in Intel and Cisco."

Losing high-tech stocks included Microsoft, off 94 cents at $66.44, and Sun Microsystems, down $3.88 at $85.31.

Among blue chips, banker J.P. Morgan was down $3.56 at $153.44. Even pharmaceutical stocks, generally considered safer bets, suffered. Pfizer dropped $1.88 to $42.25 and Merck was off $2.38 at $89.25.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by nearly 5-to-3 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 900.04 million shares, ahead of the 767.78 million on Friday.

The Russell 2000 index fell 4.35 to 476.55.

The uncertainty on Wall Street was felt worldwide. Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 2.2 percent. German's DAX index slipped 1.6 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 was off nearly 2.00 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 1.8 percent.

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