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Just an Ugly Day for Stocks
   Fox Market Wire
NEW YORK — Overall, Wednesday turned out to be an ugly day for stocks, with investors dumping technology stocks for a third straight session, then late in the day, dumping blue chips as well.

The tech tumble pushed the Nasdaq composite to its first close below 4,000 since January. It brought the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average down 200 points in less than an hour and turned even the broad Wilshire 5000 index negative.

What's more, it stunned market players. Traders had cheered last Tuesday as a last-minute rebound pulled stocks off steep lows. But there was no rebound this time, and no cheering, leaving market makers with only sell orders as investors took cash off the table.

"It was a panic and it feeds on itself and everyone just decided to bail at the same time," said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co."

Asian Markets Follow Wall St.

Asian technology stocks were hit hard on Thursday morning by the overnight plunge on the Nasdaq but support in traditional sectors limited falls in some markets.

Markets in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan were all trading around two percent lower while Australian shares were down more than one percent.

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei average dropped 1.8 percent to 20,456.20 by midday on heavy selling of high-tech issues after the Nasdaq's plunge.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell more than two percent at the open amid concern over write-offs for China Telecom (Hong Kong) Ltd. when it reports its results later in the day, but the benchmark index recovered a bit to end the morning session 1.8 percent lower at 16,279.64.

Taiwan stocks closed sharply lower as the Nasdaq woes battered heavily weighted electronics shares, although financial stocks offered some support. The TAIEX ended 2.51 percent lower.

Singapore's electronics sector lost more than four percent on the Nasdaq fall while the overall Singapore market fared a bit better with the 55-stock blue chip Straits Times Index ending the morning session 1.23 percent lower at 2,109.17.

In Sydney, Australia, the All Ordinaries Index was down 51.1 points to 3,082.3 in late trade.

The South Korean market was closed on Thursday due to an election.

On Wall St., 'Old Economy' Stocks Surge

Earnings dominated the scene for most of the trading day, with profitable, "old economy" stocks surging on the back of strong quarterly numbers while former high-flying techs fell.

But as the pullback gained momentum and trading volume climbed, even sectors that spiked higher in early trading lost ground.

The Nasdaq composite index was pummeled, falling 7.06 percent, or 286.27 points, to 3,769.63 to log its second-biggest one-day point loss ever and its lowest closing price since Jan. 6.

Heavyweight stocks weighed the Nasdaq down and pulled blue-chip investors into the selling spree. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 161.95 points, or 1.43 percent, to end at 11,125.13, reversing its earlier gain of more than 100 points with a pullback in the last hour of trading.

The Dow's four top tech names dove, with Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., International Business Machines Corp. and Microsoft Corp. all sliding and offsetting strength in such Dow stalwarts as J.P. Morgan & Co., American Express, Procter & Gamble and DuPont.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 2.23 percent, or 33.42 points, to 1,467.17, while the Wilshire 5000 fell 2.76 percent to 13,586.29.

"It's sweaty and sloppy out here. It was slow and then it was fast and before you knew it, the (Nasdaq) comp did a job on the Dow and we're in freefall. I don't know where we go next," one trader said from his firm's trading desk.

The selloff has become so prolonged that it finally hit the heavyweights, pulling the Nasdaq 100 index of top stocks down 7.05 percent to 3,633.63. Microsoft Corp. lost 4-1/2 to 79-3/8, a level not seen since last June, after Goldman Sachs cut its revenue estimate for the software giant.

But at the very least, analysts say, the volatile action has brought some welcome skepticism to the technology market.

"Investors will be more discriminating in their buying of technology and Internet stocks," said Alfred E. Goldman, chief market strategist at A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis.

Financial services powered the Dow earlier in the day, with J.P. Morgan saying its first-quarter profits rose nearly 5 percent to a record $628 million, surging past expectations.

"There is a little case of the nerves in the market," said Peter Coolidge, senior equity trader at Brean Murray & Co. "The good news is that there seems to be a rotation out of technology into the more traditional "old economy" sectors. The money is not necessarily flowing out of the equities market."

— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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