Upgrades Can’t Save Dell, Cisco

The 16-month-old bear market added another “worst ever” to its list of accomplishments today, sending stocks plunging in the weakest start to the month of March in market history.

Every stock in the big-cap Nasdaq 100 ended the day lower — with the lone exception of drug developer Warner Chilcott (NASDAQ: WCRX), which added 0.8% on an upgrade.

The major indexes lost 4% or more each, and even Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) and Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) lost more than 1% each despite Argus Research upgrades.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) was another stock not suffering too badly, off 1.5% on speculation that the company could make an iMac product announcement later this month.

Nokia (NYSE: NOK) lost 6.6% on problems with its 5800 touch screen smart phone. Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) lost 7.7%, while Palm (NASDAQ: PALM) managed a 1% gain.

Seagate (NASDAQ: STX) and Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) also suffered steep declines.

The cause of the market’s troubles was yet another steep loss and bailout of AIG (NYSE: AIG). With no end in sight for financial woes, the Dow and S&P ended the day at fresh 12-year lows.

The Nasdaq lost 55 to 1322, the S&P 500 fell 34 to 700, and the Dow tumbled 299 to 6763. Volume declined to 8.98 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.37 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by a 35-3 margin on the NYSE, and 25-3 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 98% on the NYSE, and 96% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 10-877 on the NYSE, and 1-602 on the Nasdaq.

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