Tech Stocks Plunge as Worries Return

An unexpected downturn in Northeast manufacturing and falling commodity prices raised fears that economic woes will continue, sending stocks to their steepest losses in a month on Monday.

The selling was pretty evenly distributed across the tech sector, with Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL), Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) and Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) among the names losing more than the Nasdaq’s 2.3% decline.

RIM will report its quarterly results late Thursday, and analysts will be watching closely to see how the company is faring against stiff competition from Palm (NASDAQ: PALM) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). Despite the weak economy and competition, analysts still expect 52% sales growth from RIM for the quarter.

Rambus (NASDAQ: RMBS) continued to gain on hopes for an antitrust settlement with the EU, adding another 10%, but Palm finally lost a little ground after a dramatic run-up last week.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) ended the day with a small gain and Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) finished flat after Citigroup said Yahoo remains an attractive acquisition candidate.

The Nasdaq lost 42 to 1816, the S&P 500 fell 22 to 923, and the Dow plunged 187 to 8612. Volume rose to 4.7 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.2 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by a 31-6 margin on the NYSE, and 21-5 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 93% on the NYSE, and 77% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 24-46 on the NYSE, and 13-19 on the Nasdaq.

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