NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Still reeling from last week's market tumble, investors had no time to recover Monday as U.S. stock markets opened sharply lower.
An overnight sell-off in Asian markets and more uncertainty about U.S. corporate earnings outweighed enthusiasm over news and talk of giant mergers in the telecommunications industry.
Around 10 a.m. the Dow Jones industrial average fell 49.44 points to 8,887.92. On the New York Stock Exchange, declines trounced advances 1,703 to 547 as 63 million shares changed hands.
The Nasdaq Composite tumbled 22.08, or 1.14 percent, to 1,908.91 and the S&P 500 index lost 6.99 to 1,133.81.
The bond market was mostly higher, rising slightly in line with gains in the dollar amid doubts that Japan will be able to introduce quick economic reforms when its new prime minister takes over later this week. The benchmark 30-year Treasury bond rose 6/32 of a point in price, for a yield of 5.67 percent.
The dollar jumped against the yen in overnight trading and maintained its gains in U.S. trading as investors showed their skepticism that Keizo Obuchi, who is expected to become Japan's prime minister, will be able to introduce permanent tax cuts and stimulate his country's economy. The U.S. currency traded nearly unchanged against the German mark.
Focus on telecoms
In stocks, investors still shaken by last week's market slide had more selling to deal with even amid news of brimming merger activity in the telecommunications sector.
Among the newsmakers of the day, shares of AT&T (T), the long-distance phone powerhouse and Dow component, rose 5/8 to 60-9/16 on news the company has entered a $10 billion global venture with British Telecom (BTY). BT's American depositary receipts surged 9-3/4 to 147-1/2.
Also stirring investors' interest, newspaper reports that Bell Atlantic (BEL) and GTE Corp. (GTE) are discussing a merger that could be worth $55 billion sent shares of both companies higher. Bell Atlantic gained 5/16 to 45-1/2 and GTE rose 3/16 to 58-1/8. Officials from the two companies wouldn't comment on the reports.
Elsewhere, weakness among technology and Internet shares contributed to the market's declines.
Among major technology issues, Dell (DELL) was down 1-5/8 to 103-1/4 and Microsoft (MSFT) slipped 1-3/16 to 112-5/8. Intel (INTC), which had opened higher, inched down 5/16 to 82-3/4.
In the Internet-related sector, Amazon.com (AMZN) fell 5-1/2 to 118-3/4, Yahoo! (YHOO) lost 2-7/16 to 179-11/16, and Lycos (LCOS) shed 2-1/2 to 64-3/4.
-- by staff writer Malina Poshtova Zang