Investors didn't discriminate in their selling Wednesday as shares of blue-chip and technology stocks tumbled in a broad-based sell-off. The Nasdaq composite closed off 78 points to 3,707.32 while the Dow plunged 251 points to 10,480.13.
Despite the brutal selling, it could have been worse. At one point, the Dow was off more than 300 points and the Nasdaq fell more than 100 points before making a tepid rally a day's end.
"With no real players out there and no real demand and some skittish money coming out of the marketplace, this is the reaction you get," said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co.
Novell (NOVL) took a tremendous beating after issuing a painful profit warning. Its shares closed off 6 15/16, or 40 percent, to 10 5/8.
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) shares finished up 11/16 to 70 9/16 while Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) shed 1 7/8 and 13/16 a share, respectively.
Among widely held PC stocks, Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) lost 7/16 to 49 3/8; Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) dropped 2 3/4 to 115 1/8; Gateway Inc. (GTW) lost 2 15/16 to 53 and Compaq Computer Corp. (CPQ) closed off 1 1/4 to 27 1/2.
Nice Systems (Nasdaq: NICE) pleasantly surprised Wall Street Wednesday with first quarter earnings. Despite the good news, its shares closed off 2 3/8 to 62 1/2.
CAIS Internet (Nasdaq: CAIS) gained 2 3/16 to 18 15/16 on news that Microsoft will invest $40 million in the company as part of an alliance for broadband access.
Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) closed down 7/16 to 122 1/8. America Online Inc. (AOL) slid 11/16 to 57 1/16 while Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and eBay Inc. (EBAY) dropped 2 and 3 3/8 a share, respectively.
WebMethods (Nasdaq: WEBM) sank 15 5/8 to 98 1/8 despite a fourth quarter report that beat estimates and showed strong revenue growth.
Intel Corp. (INTC) shed 2 1/8 to 119 1/16 and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) slid 2 3/16 to close at 87 5/16.