Technology stocks drifted lower again Thursday as the Nasdaq composite lopped off 46 points to finish at 2,562.08.
The Dow Jones industrial average shed 67 points to close at 10,880.22.
With little news to move the market, investors were left to ponder the future of corporate earnings while analysts mulled over the possibility that the U.S. economy is in the early stages of a recession.
"The market has discounted a lot of bad news, but at the same time there's no real catalyst for stocks to do better," said A.C. Moore, chief investment strategist at Dunvegan Associates. "So they are toying with support."
Microsoft (MSFT) shares fell $2.44 to $62.25 after Merrill Lynch analyst Henry Blodget initiated coverage by cutting the long-term rating on the company to "accumulate" and questioning the company's ability to dominate the Internet marketplace.
Oracle (ORCL) shares fell 56 cents to $27.13 and Sun Microsystems (SUNW) closed off 69 cents to $25.88.
WorldCom (Nasdaq: WCOM) gained 19 cents to $20.31 after it met analysts' reduced estimates for its fourth quarter and said it expects full-year revenue growth of between 12 percent and 15 percent for fiscal 2001.
Cisco Systems (CSCO) slid $1.06 to $30 while Nortel Networks (NT) and Lucent Technologies (LU) closed off 39 cents and 12 cents a share, respectively.
Among widely held PC stocks, Dell (DELL) trimmed 44 cents to $26.06; Compaq (CPQ) chopped off 64 cents to $23.40; Apple Computer (AAPL) closed unchanged at $20.75 and Gateway (GTW) finished off 39 cents to $20.04.
Nice Systems (Nasdaq: NICE) plunged $5.19 to $13.31 after the company said it would slash 20 percent of its work force and restate some past revenue after discovering improperly reported sales.
Intel (INTC) dropped 31 cents to $34.62. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) gained 43 cents to $24 and IBM (IBM) lopped off $2.81 to close at $114.10.
KPMG Consulting (KCIN) rallied up $5.48 to $23.48 in its initial public offering.
High-speed wireless data network operator Metricom (Nasdaq: MCOM) shed $4.56 to $5.81 after the company said it would postpone introducing its service in some markets until it secures more funding.
AOL Time Warner (AOL) added 56 cents to $48.76. Amazon.com (AMZN) and Yahoo (YHOO) fell 63 cents and $3.25 a share, respectively, while eBay (EBAY) moved up 94 cents to $47.13.