Stocks Sell Off On Exit Poll Buzz

A stock market rally gave way to selling Tuesday afternoon after a Web site published early exit poll data showing Democratic challenger John Kerry with a small lead in the key states of Florida and Ohio.

News of the exit poll data spread quickly on trading floors, sending the Dow from an 80-point gain to a 40-point loss before the blue chip index stabilized to close down 18.

The Drudge Report (, which published the polling data, noted that early data showed Democratic candidate Al Gore leading in key states like Florida in 2000, but the specter of another disputed presidential election caused investors to turn tail.

The Nasdaq climbed 4 to 1984, but that was 18 points off its high for the day. The S&P 500 was unchanged at 1130, and the Dow lost 18 to 10,035. Volume rose to 1.67 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.85 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 17-15 on the NYSE, and by a few shares on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 51% on the NYSE, and 65% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 255-14 on the NYSE, and 130-33 on the Nasdaq.

After the close, Priceline fell after the company beat earnings estimates but came in light on revenues and issued lower than expected revenue guidance for the fourth quarter. Also after the close, Corning reaffirmed guidance.

During the day, Nextel gained 3% after settling spectrum issues with Verizon .

Macrovision , National Semi FindWhat and Commscope fell on warnings.

BMC fell 12% despite beating estimates and raising guidance. Hutchinson , Kronos , Rudolph Tech , Audible and SimpleTech also fell on their results.

Maxim , Avanex and Primus rose on their reports.

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