Earnings, War Fears Keep Stocks Under Pressure

Terrorism warnings and rising tensions in Iraq and North Korea combined with downgrades and warnings to keep stocks under pressure on Wednesday.

The Nasdaq fell 16 to 1278, the S&P 500 lost 10 to 818, and the Dow dropped 84 to 7758. Volume declined to 1.25 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.22 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 22-10 on the NYSE, and 21-10 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 80% on the NYSE, and 82% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 28-154 on the NYSE, and 39-99 on the Nasdaq.

After the close, Brocade matched estimates, Cognizant beat estimates, and TMP Worldwide missed estimates and declined to give guidance.

During the day, Applied Materials slipped 1% after missing estimates. Sycamore and Network Appliance also declined on their results.

Merrill Lynch didn’t help the mood any when it said it doesn’t expect tech spending to improve until 2004-2005.

DoubleClick was a rare bright spot, surging 8.6% on rumors of a deal with AOL .

Yahoo , off 0.7%, made a push into the UK broadband market with British Telecom and held an analyst meeting.

IBM , down 1.2%, won a major outsourcing contract.

Borland rose 2.8% after releasing new Java application products.

Microstrategy , Business Objects , Cognizant , Actuate and Brio fell on concern about competition from Microsoft in the business intelligence space.

Expedia , off 1.5%, is offering sports tickets to travelers.

Sun , down 1.5%, unveiled a network computing initiative online.

Oracle , off 3.5%, expanded its storage partnership with Hitachi.

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