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Stock markets plunge

The Dow falls more than 200 points, haunted by the news that there will be no coordinated global effort to cut interest rates.

Wall Streets stocks plunged today, haunted by yesterday's statement from Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan that there would be no coordinated global effort to cut interest rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 235 points today before closing at down 216.01 points or 2.67 percent at 7,873.77. The technology-heavy Nasdaq also plummeted to close at 1,646.24, down 43.67 points or 2.58 percent.

Today's declines come after four straight days of gains for U.S. markets, pushing the Dow below 8,000 again, and hitting technology and Internet stocks particularly hard across the board.

Online retailer Shopping.com lost 23.44 percent to close at 1.53. The stock has traded as high as 25.5 and as low as 1.13 during the past 52 weeks. A few days ago, the company reported increased losses.

Online book and music vendor Amazon.com closed down 8.51 percent while online auctioneer Onsale fell 6.58 percent.

Web portals Yahoo, Excite, and Lycos were also hit. Yahoo closed down 3.41 percent, Excite fell 8.64 percent and Lycos shed 7.11 percent. Netscape Communications, both a Web portal and Internet software firm, closed down 4.56 percent.

Infoseek, however, stood out from the crowd and fell less than a percent.

PC makers Gateway and Compaq Computer closed down 2.45 percent and 3.69 percent, respectively. Apple Computer fell 3.52 percent although still enjoying strong iMac sales.

Software firms were also taking a beating. Network security company Network Associates closed down 6.1 percent and personal finance software firm Intuit fell 4.12 percent. Software giant Microsoft closed three percent lower.

The semiconductor sector took lumps with Cirrus Logic dropped 3.5 percent.

Overseas markets across the board also fell today, with Japan's Nikkei index hitting a 12-year low. The index closed at 13,859.14, down 338.56 points or 2.38 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng also spun downward to 7,576.57, a 3.61 percent fall or a 284.11 point decline.

European markets were following the lead of Asia, with Germany's DAX trading closed down 3.88 percent or 188.46 points to 4,669.51.

There is still some hope that Greenspan will move to help the U.S. economy because he expressed concern yesterday about its growing weakness.

Greenspan said that the Fed's primary responsibility was to the health of the U.S. economy, but acknowledged that the economic crisis in Asia is likely to impact America.

"Even though we at the Fed perceive that our actions must be focused on the American economy, we are aware that we cannot do that without significant awareness of what is going on around the world and what our actions do to the rest of the world," Greenspan added.