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Markets close slightly lower

Gains for some major bellwethers can't stop the overall tech sector from losing more ground, and the Dow and the Nasdaq dip.

Gains for some major bellwethers couldn't stop the overall tech sector from losing a bit more ground Tuesday.

After giving up roughly 7 percent of their value on Monday, the Nasdaq composite index and Dow Jones industrial average ended Tuesday slightly lower. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 24.47 to 1,555.08. The Dow fell 17.30 to 8,903.40.

Some neutral economic news also helped restore normalcy to the markets. A report on the Consumer Price Index showed that the index rose 0.1 percent in August, according to the Labor Department's morning report. The results indicated that inflation was tame, as the index rose less than the 0.2 percent economists had expected. It was up from a decline of 0.3 percent in July, however.

The results give room for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates again after yesterday's half-point cut.

"With the next FOMC meeting only two weeks away, we suggest that the Fed might well act again at that time," Merrill Lynch analyst Bruce Steinberg said in a research note.

The most actively traded stock on the Nasdaq was Oracle, up 37 cents to $11.38, despite news that the company expects lower second-quarter software sales in the wake of Tuesday's disaster.

Microsoft rose $1.41 to $54.32 after U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly extended to Thursday the deadline for a status report on settlement talks in the software giant's antitrust case with the government. A hearing originally set for Friday has been pushed back to Sept. 28.

eBay made strong gains Tuesday, up 60 cents to $50 after news that the online auctioneer is comfortable with estimates for its upcoming quarter despite last week's events. First Call predicts earnings of 11 cents per share in eBay's third quarter.

Of the two major trends that have come out of last week's attack, only one accelerated its course; travel-related stocks continued to slouch, while most security stocks fell back after Monday's huge gains.

Among online travel companies, Priceline.com fell 66 cents to $2.35; Expedia fell $4.36 to $19.64, while Travelocity slid 15 cents to $12.41.

Among security stocks, facial-imaging company Visionics was up 45 cents to $8.70. Viisage Technology fell 71 cents to $3.99, and X-ray scanning company InVision Technologies fell 90 cents to $7.35. Internet security companies RSA Security and Sonicwall dropped, with RSA falling 48 cents to $17.07 and Sonicwall losing 50 cents to $16.20.

Among other heavily traded techs, Rambus was up $1.11 to $7.76 after the company announced a new five-year licensing agreement with Intel. Intel fell 12 cents to $23.47.

Cisco Systems lost 43 cents to close at $13.57. Sun Microsystems dropped 67 cents to $9.18.

Amazon.com fell 20 cents to $7.29, AOL Time Warner gained 45 cents to $30.45, and Yahoo lost 78 cents to $10.10.

Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.

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