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Downtrodden investors push Nasdaq lower

The Nasdaq stays below the psychologically critical 2,000 mark for the second day in a row, with little news to encourage gains.

The Nasdaq stayed below the psychologically critical 2,000 mark Thursday, with little news to inspire gains.

The Nasdaq composite index ended the day at 1,963.32, down 3.04 points; and the Dow Jones industrial average fell 5.06 to 10,298.56.

It was the second day in a row that the index closed below 2,000 after holding steady above that mark for two weeks. Wednesday's slip followed a disappointing quarterly report from Cisco Systems. And, as news slows with the traditional tedium of August, investors found little inspiration to hoist technology stocks into positive territory again.

Jobless claims were the day's main economic news. A report from the Labor Department showed more people filed for jobless benefits than had been expected. The number of Americans seeking initial benefits jumped to 385,000 in the week ended Aug. 4, up from a revised 352,000 for the prior week. The increase was more than what was expected by economists, who projected claims to rise to 373,000.

Retail sales reports also indicated consumers aren't spending the economy back into a boom.

"There are all these incremental pieces of news showing that the economy is still slowing. There's nowhere to run to and no place to hide," Brandywine Asset Management trading director Donna Van Vlack told Reuters.

Solectron tumbled $1.71 to $15.49 after announcing it will buy C-MAC Industries in a stock deal worth $2.7 billion. The electronics manufacturing giant also revised its outlook for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2002.

Verity was one of the Nasdaq's biggest decliners, down $3.08 to $9.62 after news it won't make its first-quarter estimates. The provider of infrastructure software now expects a loss instead of earnings on lower revenue.

Sun Microsystems was one of the Nasdaq's biggest volume decliners, down 49 cents to $16.76. It also weighed on the hardware sector, making it one of the top losers for the day. CNET's Server Hardware index was off around 3 percent.

Nortel Networks was off 6 cents to $7.56 after news it plans to privately sell $1 billion of convertible senior notes to raise cash.

Cablevision Systems, down $2 to $51.85, and AT&T, unchanged at $19.58, announced they have come to an agreement regarding the sale of Cablevision shares owned by AT&T. AT&T said it will unload its stake of 48.9 million shares of Cablevision in a plan to avoid diluting the stock and raise cash.

Among other heavily traded techs, Microsoft rose 14 cents to $65, Oracle slipped 31 cents to $15.99 and Cisco gained 32 cents to $ 18.30.

Amazon.com fell 65 cents to $10.46, AOL Time Warner lost 22 cents to $44.86 and Yahoo fell 27 cents to $16.28.

Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.