Technology investors finally cashed in some of their profits, particularly in the biotech sector, Tuesday as the Nasdaq composite plunged 200 points to 4,706.88.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 136 points to end at 9,811.24.
Despite the huge losses, analysts weren't terribly surprised or concerned.
"We have a couple of numbers ahead of us and you don't want to be blind-sided by any of these events," said Joseph Barthel, chief investment strategist of Fahnestock & Co. "So you can expect a contraction in volume as people pull in their horns."
On Thursday and Friday, Wall Street will get economic reports on prices at the wholesale and retail level, which could provide clues to the inflationary picture and the future direction of interest rates.
On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reported that U.S. retailer sales rose 1.1 percent in February.
Initial public offerings were immune to the downturn as RADVision (Nasdaq: RVSN) closed up 35 15/16 to 55 15/16 in its debut.
Digitas (Nasdaq: DTAS), an Internet consulting firm, moved up 5 1/2 to 29 1/2 after pricing its shares at $24 each.
Consumer auction site network FairMarket (Nasdaq: FAIM) jumped 31 1/2 to 48 1/2 in its first trading day.
Internet software maker Inktomi (Nasdaq: INKT) closed up 17 1/8 to 206 1/8 after it announced six new wireless deals.
Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) fell 7 1/16 to 168 3/4 while America Online Inc. (AOL) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) rose 3/8 and 5/16 a share, respectively.
Lycos Inc. (LCOS) slid 7/16 to 72 11/16 and eBay Inc. (EBAY) picked up 1 1/4 to 211.
Nortel Networks (NYSE: NT) gained 1 15/16 to 123 5/8 after announcing it would buy Xros (pronounced KY-ROS), a photonic switching company, for $3.25 billion.
Among widely held PC stocks, Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) added 1 3/16 to 55 15/16; Compaq Computer Corp. (CPQ) inched up 3/8 to 29 1/8; Gateway Inc. (GTW) rose 9/16 to 60 1/16 and Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) fell 7 1/16 to 114 1/4.
Sandisk (Nasdaq: SNDK) closed up 14 1/2 to 139 1/2 after the maker of flash memory data storage products got an upgrade from Merrill Lynch.
Oracle Corp. (ORCL) shed 1 5/8 to 77 1/8 ahead of its earnings report while Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) closed off 2 7/8 and 3 1/2 a share, respectively.