NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Technology issues bore the brunt of a massive sell-off in the stock market Friday, after the release of stronger-than-expected economic data rekindled inflation fears and sent investors scrambling for the exits.|
Dot.coms and Internet infrastructure issues as well as semiconductor-related issues were especially hard hit, though the losses spread throughout the sector.
Though marked by a negative tone from the outset, stocks took a turn for the worse after the U.S. Labor Department reported that consumer prices in March advanced at their strongest pace in nearly a year.
And once again, the worst damage was inflicted on the technology sector, which dragged the tech-laden Nasdaq composite index, which already was deep in bear territory, down 355.77 to 3321.11, a 9.7 percent decline on the day.
For the week, the Nasdaq lost 1,125.34 points, finishing 25 percent lower from last Friday's closing level of 4446.45
Market participants pointed out that investors already were on edge, with cautious forward-looking comments about tech heavyweights such as Motorola and Microsoft heightening concerns about the high-flying sector.
"Suddenly, we see the CPI number jump, and that just shocked everybody," Salomon Smith Barney analyst Jeff Warantz told CNNfn. "Nobody is rushing in to buy the dips just yet."
Dot.coms continue to dive
Internet stocks, which have taken some of the hardest hits in the recent market skid, found no relief in Friday's action. The Dow Jones composite Internet index fell 31.45 to 236.51, an 11.7 percent decline on the day.
Yahoo! (YHOO: Research, Estimates) finished down 20-1/18 at 116, a 14.8 percent decline on the day, putting shares well off their 52-week high of 250-1/16. Amazon.com (AMZN: Research, Estimates) dropped 1-1/8, or 2.3 percent, to 46-7/8. CMGI (CMGI: Research, Estimates) shares plunged 14-3/16, ending 21.4 percent lower at 52-1/16. DoubleClick (DCLK: Research, Estimates) fell 2-13/16, or 4.4 percent, to 60-9/16. America Online (AOL: Research, Estimates) shares fell 4-1/4 to 55, a 7.2 percent decline on the day.
In the Internet infrastructure area: Inktomi (INKT: Research, Estimates) plunged 9-3/4, or 8.8 percent, to 100-13/16; Akamai Technologies (AKAM: Research, Estimates), which speeds the delivery of Internet content and protects against Web site crashes resulting from demand overloads, dropped like a rock, losing 23-1/8 to stand at 64-7/8. Akamai's stock is now a whopping 81 percent below its 52-week high of 345-1/2.
Meanwhile, shares of Emulex (EMLX: Research, Estimates), which makes fiber-optic network-access products, tanked, ending the session 41-1/4 lower at 41-11/16, falling nearly 50 percent on the day.
Friday's decline came despite better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter operating earnings that beat analysts estimates. After Thursday's close, the company reported an operating profit of $7.7 million, or 20 cents per share. Analysts polled by earnings tracker First Call had expected the company to turn a profit of 18 cents per share during the quarter.
Earnings cushion Gateway; Sun Micro sinks
Shares of Gateway (GTW: Research, Estimates) were shielded to some extent from Friday's bloodbath after it posted a first-quarter profit that was in line with Wall Street's expectations, trading higher for most of the session, but finishing down 1/2 at 51-1/2.
Shares of Sun Microsystems (SUNW: Research, Estimates) and Gateway (GTW: Research, Estimates) which reported earnings that were above analyst expectations, rallied in the early going, and then turned choppy for the remainder of the session, ending down 1-1/4, or 1.6 percent, at 76-1/2.
Credit Suisse First Boston said in a research note Friday that Sun was "too hot to handle" and said order growth and backlog bodes well for the company. Lehman Brothers raised its 2000 earnings estimates on Sun from 96 cents to 91 cents and reiterated its "buy" rating on the company. Bear Stearns also reiterated its "buy" rating on Sun.
Other computer equipment makers fared much worse, pulling the Goldman Sachs computer hardware index down 27.78 to 511.44, a 5.2 percent decline on the day.
IBM (IBM: Research, Estimates) dropped 4-5/8 to 106, a 4.2 percent decline. Hewlett-Packard (HWP: Research, Estimates) shares finished down 8-15/16, or 6.8 percent, at 123. Compaq (CPQ: Research, Estimates) ended the session down 2-3/8 at 24-1/4, an 8.9 percent slide. Dell Computer (DELL: Research, Estimates) shares slipped 4-1/16, closing 7.9 percent lower at 47-5/8.
Chip issues crumble; software slides
Semiconductor related issues, which had shown some signs of life Thursday after a stellar earnings report from Advanced Micro Devices, fell sharply Friday.
The Philadelphia Stock Exchange's semiconductor index, or Soxx, ended the day 117.54 lower at 892.16, an 11.6 percent slide.
AMD (AMD: Research, Estimates) shares ended Friday's session 3-1/2 lower at 67-1/2, a 4.9 percent decline on the day. Intel (INTC: Research, Estimates), AMD's larger rival in the market for PC microprocessors, slid 10-5/8, or 8.8 percent, to 110-1/2.
Shares of Rambus (RMBS: Research, Estimates), which makes money by licensing a technology that is used to speed up computer memory systems, ended Friday's session down 46-3/8, or 23 percent, at 156-1/4. Rambus also posted earnings that were ahead of analysts forecasts earlier in the week.
Among the major software issues, Microsoft (MSFT: Research, Estimates) ended the day down 5-1/8, or 6.5 percent, at 74-1/8, bringing shares to a new 52-week low.
Oracle (ORCL: Research, Estimates) shares fell 8-7/16 to 63-1/2, an 11.7 percent decline on the day. Novell (NOVL: Research, Estimates) shares fell 2-15/16, or 13.3 percent, to 19-1/8. Siebel Systems (SEBL: Research, Estimates) fell 19-3/8 to 86-9/16, an 18.3 percent decline on the day. Computer Associates (CA: Research, Estimates) slipped 2, ending the session 3.6 percent lower at 53.