Stocks Give Up Big Gains

A steep plunge in oil prices was good news for the stock market for all of about 30 minutes on Tuesday.

The major stock indexes posted gains of around 2% in the first 15 minutes of trading on relief that energy supplies weren’t more disrupted by Hurricane Gustav, but they spent the rest of the day selling off on slowdown fears to end the day in the red after manufacturing and construction data came in weaker than expected.

It was an inauspicious start to September, historically the worst month for stocks.

For the tech sector, the day’s biggest news was Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) browser plans, but the news had little effect on shares of Google or rival Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).

Alcatel Lucent (NYSE: ALU) fell 4.7% after initially trading higher on news that former BT Group chief Ben Verwayyan will be its new CEO.

VMware (NYSE: VMW) fell 3% on news that R&D official Richard Sarwal is returning to Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL). Oracle, meanwhile, shed 1.7% after a Cowen analyst said its revenues could come in shy of Wall Street estimates when the company reports quarterly results on Sept. 18.

Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) continued to lose ground after posting disappointing results last week, off another 4%.

Priceline (NASDAQ: PCLN) and Intevac (NASDAQ: IVAC) benefited from analyst upgrades, while Intersil (NASDAQ: ISIL) got hit by a Lehman Brothers downgrade.

The Nasdaq lost 18 to 2349, the S&P fell 5 to 1277, and the Dow lost 26 to 11,516. Volume rose to 4.79 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.06 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 17-16 margin on the NYSE, while decliners led by a few shares on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 57% on the NYSE, and 33% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 59-78 on the NYSE, and 78-90 on the Nasdaq.

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