The Nasdaq closed down 70 points to 2,243 for the day, and the Dow ended down 151 points to 11,105.
Analysts linked some of Wednesday's declines to developments on Capitol Hill, where Republicans may lose control of the Senate. As Republicans urged him to stay, Sen. James Jeffords, from Vermont, postponed until Thursday an anticipated announcement that he will bolt from the party, handing Democrats control of the Senate. The move is a big threat to President Bush's conservative agenda.
"Gridlock means it's hard to put through both spending and tax cuts," Mary Ann Hurley, vice president of fixed-income trading at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Seattle, told Reuters.
Dell Computer got a boost Wednesday as a pair of prominent brokerages recommended shares of the PC maker. Goldman Sachs initiated coverage of Dell, adding the stock to its "recommended" list. Analyst Joe Moore set earnings predictions of 66 cents per share for fiscal 2002 and 90 cents per share for fiscal 2003. He also set a $32 price target for the company. Shares were up 87 cents to $26.81.
Intuit shares rose $2.20 to $33.35 after the company beat estimates in its fiscal third quarter. The financial software maker's bottom line outpaced sales this quarter, and the company said it doesn't expect that to change anytime soon.
IBM registered to sell about 2 million shares of its e-commerce partner i2 Technologies in the past month, the company confirmed Wednesday. Shares in IBM were down 61 cents to $117.40, and i2 shares were down $2.25 to $25.85.
Cabot Microelectronics slipped $9.76 to $66.55 after a downgrade and concerns about its third quarter.
Amazon.com was down 65 cents at $15.60, AOL Time Warner dropped $1.96 to $55.28 and Yahoo was down $1.64 at $20.49.
Cisco Systems dropped $1.05 to $22.43, Intel was down 73 cents to $28.80, Microsoft lost 61 cents to $69.70 and Oracle dropped 74 cents to $16.84.
Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.