Stocks Sluggish On Eve of Fed Decision

U.S. stocks languished Monday as nervous investors awaited the Federal Reserve’s announcement Tuesday about whether it will cut interest rates as a way to breathe life into a sluggish economy.

Perhaps weighing just as heavily on Wall Street’s collective mind were the pessimistic words of former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, who on Sunday characterized his outlook for the U.S. economy as “pretty gloomy.”

In a day of light trading, the Dow Jones dipped 39 points, or 0.3 percent, to 13403. The tech-heavy Nasdaq sustained the biggest percentile loss on Monday, falling 21 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2582, while the S&P 500 declined 8 points, or a half-percent, to 1477.

Unlike last Friday, when all three major U.S. stock indexes recovered from a morning slump to end the day in the black, Monday was red virtually from beginning to end, with only the Dow briefly moving above water.

On the Nasdaq, losers outnumbered winners by more than two to one. Among the biggest tech losers was HireRight , an on-demand employment screening software and services provider, which plunged $2.50 per share, or 19.5 percent, to $10.31. HireRight, which debuted on the Nasdaq six weeks ago at $15 per share, last Thursday announced a decline in second-quarter net income and earnings, even as quarterly revenue rose.

Software maker Microsoft Corp. fell 32 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $28.73 per share on news that the European Union’s second-highest court had rejected most of Redmond’s appeal of an antitrust ruling made by the European Commission in 2004.

The kickoff of its premiere annual event, the Intel Developer Forum, failed to buoy shares of the chipmaker as Intel slipped 8 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $24.85. Intel is expected on Tuesday to announce at the San Francisco show a new generation of processors, called Penryn.

Search king Google fell $3.45, or 0.7 percent, to $523.30, a decline that may have been triggered by the European Union warning on Monday that the court’s decision “sets an important precedent in terms of the obligations of dominant companies to allow competition, in particular in high tech industries.”

One of the few major tech companies to fare well in trading Monday was Yahoo , which gained 22 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $24.95. After the market closed, Yahoo announced it has agreed to buy email service provider Zimbra Inc. for $350 million.

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