Technology shares were hardest hit as all the major indexes notched new lows for 2004. A selloff late in the session pushed stocks down after a day of seesaw trading as news reports quoted witnesses as saying Israeli naval gunboats opened fire off Gaza Citys shore.
In the past few session, stocks have been hit by worries that global violence may spread again to US soil, helping to push major indexes to their lowest levels since December. Investors still have security fears in the forefront of their minds after the Madrid bombings, said Peter Dunay, chief markets strategist at brokerage Wall Street Access.
So when you get headlines that sort of reinforce that, it will make those that are saying, Should I be in the market start leaning toward Probably not, he said.
The technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index fell 8.10 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 1,901.80. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 1.11 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 10,063.64. The Standard & Poors 500 Index fell 1.45 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 1,093.95.
Helping to stem losses on the blue-chip Dow were airplane-maker Boeing Co and banking giant JP Morgan Chase & Co, which both rose. Microsoft Corp, which faces a record fine by the European Union for abusing its dominance of PC operating systems, was a drag on the market.
Volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 1.44 billion shares and advancing shares outnumbered decliners by 9 to 7, while on Nasdaq 1.84 billion shares traded hands and winners outpaced losers 16 to 15. Amgen Inc shares also fell as analysts and investors were disappointed that the drug company failed to raise its 2005 outlook or detail any new drugs that would reach the market soon, in a presentation on Tuesday.
Microsoft fell 35 cents, or 1.4 per cent, to $24.15, making it one of the Dows biggest percentage losers. -Reuters