- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Stock prices fell sharply yesterday as investors, despairing over earnings, ignored news that the economy had snapped back in the first quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Index fell below 10,000 for the first time in more than two months, and the Nasdaq Composite Index finished at levels not seen since October.
The decline capped a dismal week for stocks and extended a losing streak that has seen the Dow fall six out of the last eight sessions and the Nasdaq seven out of eight.
Technology stocks had the biggest losses in volatile trading, but overall volume was light. Analysts said investors are fed up with companies' inability to say business is improving and a market that keeps backtracking. With continuing problems in the Middle East, there is little reason to believe that investments will pay off soon.
"I just think there's not much an investor can hang his hat on right now, and if you combine that with the fact that any investment you made last year hasn't met with great results either, it's hard to get excited or know what to do next," said Philip S. Dow, managing director of equity strategy at RBC Dain Rauscher.
The Dow closed down 124.34, or 1.2 percent, at 9,910.72, in selling that intensified late in the day. The index last closed lower on Feb. 21, when it stood at 9,834.68.
For the week, the Dow fell 3.4 percent; the blue chips have closed down five of the last six weeks amid investors' disillusionment with company earnings and outlooks.
The technology-centered Nasdaq fared even worse, tumbling 49.81, or 2.9 percent, to 1,663.89 the lowest finish since Oct. 18 when the index closed at 1,652.72. The Nasdaq lost 7.4 percent for the week, its biggest weekly percentage decline since the 16 percent plunge during the first week of trading after September 11
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 15.16, or 1.4 percent, to 1,076.32. It last closed lower on Oct. 31, at 1,059.78. The S&P; lost 4.3 percent during the week.
The Commerce Department reported that the nation's gross domestic product the broadest measure of the economy's health grew at an annual rate of 5.8 percent in the first quarter. It was the strongest showing since the last quarter of 1999 and raised hopes that the recession that began in March 2001 is over.
"Yes, the GDP numbers were good. But earnings remain lackluster, and you still have a market that's more apt to sell the rallies than buy on the pullbacks," said Bryan Piskorowski, market commentator at Prudential Securities. "The sentiment is such that it takes a confluence of positive data to bring forth a rally, but it only takes one or two pieces of bad news to spark a sell-off."
VeriSign tumbled $8.35, or 45.8 percent, to $9.89 on first-quarter revenues that fell short of expectations because of soft demand.
Shares of JDS Uniphase fell 50 cents, or 9.9 percent, to $4.53 after the optical-equipment maker announced a $4.3 billion loss and reduced its outlook for business.
The selling spread to other technology companies.
Intel fell 97 cents to $28.12, while Microsoft fell $2.23, or 4.2 percent, to $51.50.
Investors' doubts also hurt non-technology companies. Wal-Mart lost $1.20, to $55.80, while Citigroup dropped $1.10, to $43.05, on fears that consumer spending wouldn't be enough to shore up profits.
Declining issues led advancers nearly 3-to-2 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 1.36 billion shares, ahead of the 1.52 billion shares on Thursday.
The Russell 2000 index dropped 7.35 to 501.50.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.9 percent. In Europe, Germany's DAX index slipped 1.1 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 lost 0.7 percent and France's CAC-40 dropped 0.1 percent.

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