Midday Report: Nasdaq Drops Below 2,000 at High Noon

Stocks opened sharply lower across the board on Wednesday, as the profitworries that have hit technology companies in recent weeks spread to othersectors, such as banking. By midday, though, major indexes were off their morning lows.

In early-afternoon trading, the Nasdaq Composite Index was down 41.45 at1,973.33, after trading as low as 1,933.40 early in the session. The Dow JonesIndustrial Average was down 282.88 at 10007.92, and the Standard & Poor’s500 stock index was down 27.38 at 1170.28.

The Nasdaq’s drop was led by Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), Sun Microsystems(Nasdaq: SUNW) and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC).

However, Worldcom (Nasdaq: WCOM), JDSUniphase (Nasdaq: JDSU) and Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) were higher. Reports saidSalomon Smith Barney raised earnings estimates for long-distance telephoneprovider Worldcom.

Yahoo! Falls as Sales Chief Leaves

Yahoo! was down 75 U.S. cents at $15.31 after the portal company announced it islosing anotherexecutive. Anil Singh, chief sales and marketing officer and senior vicepresident of business operations, will leave the company in May.

Last week, Tim Koogle resigned as chief executive officer, though he willstay on the Yahoo! board. Other high-level executives have also departed inrecent weeks as the company struggles to diversify its revenue sources amida decline in the online advertising market.

Profit Warnings Continue

Profit warnings and weak quarterly results continued to drag down shares oftechnology companies, with Chinadotcom (Nasdaq: CHINA) and CMGI (Nasdaq:CMGI) reporting quarterly losses.

STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM) lowered its expectations for the quarterending in March, and Asyst Technologies (Nasdaq: ASYT) said the widespreadeconomic slowdown will crimp its results for the period.

E-Commerce Stocks Mixed

The E-Commerce TimesIndex was down 1.90 percent at midday, with drops in Webvan (Nasdaq:WBVN), Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Egghead (Nasdaq: EGGS) offsetting gainsin Barnesandnoble.com (Nasdaq: BNBN), PetSmart (Nasdaq: PETM) andDrugstore.com (Nasdaq: DSCM).

eBay was down $1 at $33.44 after Jupiter Media Metrix said that Amazon overtookit as the most visited e-commerce Web site in February. Still, the news did nothelp Amazon, which was down 56 cents at $10.44.

The U.S. Department of Commerce said business inventories, or stockpiles of unsoldgoods at U.S. companies, rose 0.4 percent in January, a sign that demandremained weak during the month.

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