Smith Barney Takes The Ax To Amazon tumbled 5% Tuesday after Smith Barney cut the online retailing giant from “hold” to “sell.”

Rising competition could force Amazon to spend more on technology and marketing, analyst Lanny Baker wrote.

While Amazon benefited from strong holiday online spending, the online operations of traditional retailers like Wal-Mart grew even faster, Baker said.

“Clearly, healthy ecommerce activity benefits, but other retailers have noticed the same trends and we believe the heat of competition is rising,” the research note said.

The broader market didn’t fare much better, as stocks tumbled after December meeting minutes showed the Federal Reserve increasingly worried about inflation.

The Nasdaq plunged 44 to 2107, the S&P 500 tumbled 14 to 1188, and the Dow dropped 98 to 10,630. Volume rose to 1.72 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.7 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 25-8 on the NYSE, and 23-7 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 88% on the NYSE, and 80% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 48-9 on the NYSE, and 69-16 on the Nasdaq.

On the plus side, Microsoft gained 1% after J.P. Morgan said it expects the software giant to beat estimates when it reports earnings on Jan. 27.

Prudential said it expects strong results from Intel on Jan. 11, but the stock lost 2% on the day anyway.

Dell lost 3% on a valuation downgrade by Raymond James, and Siebel fell 5% on downgrades.

Apple rose 1% on optimism ahead of next week’s Macworld conference.

Tecnomatix gained 10% on news that it will be acquired by privately held UGS.

Mobius and Pegasystems tumbled on warnings.

News Around the Web