Dell Downgrade Sends Stocks Lower

Stocks fell once again on Monday, led lower by a downgrade ahead of Dell’s (NASDAQ: DELL) earnings report.

Dell, which will report its quarterly results late Thursday, was downgraded to “neutral” by Merrill Lynch on a deteriorating outlook for PC sales. The Wall Street firm has lowered its 2009 unit growth forecast to just 2%, with much of the strength coming from netbook sales.

Dell lost 3.4%, slightly worse than the market’s 2.5% loss, as stocks were hammered once again, this time by disappointment over the weekend’s financial summit of G20 nations, massive layoffs at Citigroup (NYSE: C) and other signs of ongoing economic weakness.

Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA), which announced massive layoffs last week, fell 12%.

Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) plunged 25%, apparently on reports of questionable medical ads.

Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) was a rare bright spot, rising 5.6% on positive comments from a Thomas Weisel analyst.

The Nasdaq lost 34 to 1482, the S&P fell 22 to 850, and the Dow tumbled 223 to 8273. Volume fell to 5.53 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.89 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by a 27-9 margin on the NYSE, and 19-9 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 82% on the NYSE, and 81% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 5-365 on the NYSE, and 4-415 on the Nasdaq.

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