- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Weaker outlooks for IBM, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Best Buy raised Wall Street's skepticism about a business recovery yesterday and sent stock prices falling. The beleaguered technology sector endured the sharpest decline, with the Nasdaq Composite Index sliding 3.1 percent to its lowest close in a month.
A drop in U.S. factory orders and rising tensions in the Middle East also gave investors more incentive to sell.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 48.99, or 0.5 percent, at 10,313.71. Yesterday marked the Dow's third-consecutive losing session.
The broader market experienced steeper losses. The Nasdaq fell 58.22 to 1,804.40. The last time the Nasdaq finished lower was March 1, when it closed at 1,802.74.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index decreased 9.78 to 1,136.76.
Investors are anxious about first-quarter earnings, which companies begin releasing in earnest this month. While the market doesn't expect stellar results, it is at least looking for proof that business has improved and is strengthening.
Technology, the last sector most analysts expect to emerge from the recession, suffered the bulk of yesterday's selling. IBM fell $1.85 to $101.01 after Goldman Sachs cut its first-quarter revenue estimate, saying in a research note that IBM's first quarter "got off to a slow start."
"Techs aren't showing the earnings bounce investors were looking for. This coupled with higher energy prices and further concern about conflict in the Middle East hasn't given Wall Street a lot to smile about today," said Thomas F. Lydon Jr., president of Global Trends Investments in Newport Beach, Calif.
Other tech losers included Microsoft, down $3.08 at $57.30, and Intel, off $1.14 at $30.03.
Among blue chips, Bristol-Myers Squibb fell $2.16 to $38.24 the day after it forecast a slump in revenue this year because wholesalers loaded up on its drugs in 2001.
Best Buy dropped $4.47 to $75.01 on a disappointing outlook for the fiscal first quarter when it expected to earn about 30 to 32 cents a share. Analysts were expecting 34 cents.
Yesterday's slippage was also partly the result of a Commerce Department report that said orders to U.S. factories declined by 0.1 percent in February amid slumping demand for computers and cars.
The market again was troubled by tension in the Mideast.
"The swaying grand piano over the market's head for now is the threat of a blowup in the Middle East," said Richard A. Dickson, a technical analyst from Hilliard Lyons in Louisville, Ky., citing rumblings from Iran and Iraq about an oil embargo, which "could create a slippery slope for any near-term rally attempts."

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