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9/30/2003
07:05 PM
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TECH STOCKS: Slumping In September

A bad forecast from Sun hurt technology issues as the key market indexes posted their first losing month since last winter.

Stocks slumped Tuesday after unexpectedly weak reports on business activity in the Midwest and U.S. consumer confidence reignited concerns that the economic recovery may be at risk.

Tech stocks were hurt by a sour forecast from Sun Microsystems, which was viewed as a bad omen for the upcoming quarterly earnings season. Sun's share price fell 55 cents, or 14.3%, to $3.31 and topped the Nasdaq's most-active list after the company warned of a larger-than-expected loss in its first quarter.

The InformationWeek 100 fell 5.12 points, or 1.9%, to 271.43. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 37.77 points, or 2.1%, to 1,786.79, while the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average fell 105.18 points, or 1.1%, to 9,275.06. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 fell 10.65 points, or 1.1%, to 995.93. The Nasdaq-100 tracking stock fell 72 cents, or 2.2%, to $32.42.

Two reports showing growth at Chicago-area businesses slowed sharply in September and U.S. consumer confidence plunged to the lowest level since the start of the Iraq war also put investors on guard.

The last day in September saw the end to a streak of monthly gains for the major market indexes. The Nasdaq fell about 1.3% for the month, snapping a seven-month winning streak. The S&P 500 fell 1.2% and the Dow fell about 1.5%--ending six-month winning streaks for both.

But for the third quarter, the S&P 500 rose 2.2%, the Dow rose 3.2%, and the Nasdaq rose 10.1%.

Sun's rivals followed its downward trend. Hewlett-Packard fell 26 cents to $19.36, and IBM fell $1.12 to $88.33; both weighed on the Dow average. Dell, another Sun competitor, fell 81 cents to $33.42.

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