In Pakistan, thousands of soldiers joined a large offensive reportedly aimed at capturing Ayman al Zawahri, a key al-Qaida figure. Trading was also feverish due to what's known as quadruple witching: the expiration of all index and equity options and futures contracts. Investors spent much of the day adjusting their portfolios and moving into more defensive stocks--with technology issues, especially semiconductors, suffering the biggest declines.
The InformationWeek 100 fell 2.88, or 0.9%, to 314.99 and ended the week down 2.1%. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 109.18, or 1.1%, to 10,186.60. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 12.58, or 1.1%, to 1,109.74, and the Nasdaq composite index was down 21.97, or 1.1%, at 1,940.47. For the week, the Dow, despite big gains on Tuesday and Wednesday, lost 53.48, or 0.5%. The S&P 500 lost 10.83, or 1%, and the Nasdaq fell 44.26, or 2.2%.
The Nasdaq 100 tracking stock fell 59 cents, or 1.7%, to $34.75 as just over 99 million shares changed hands.
Stocks have been falling for a month on rising anxiety among investors over the lack of job creation, a key factor if the economic recovery is going to gain momentum. Renewed terrorist activity, including the recent bombing of trains in Madrid, has exacerbated the market's uneasiness and raised the specter of a prolonged slump.
Among tech issues, Sprint slipped 1 cent to $17.65 after a media report noted the company is now free to be acquired and could actively pursue suitors as part of the deal with BellSouth Corp. that sent Gary Forsee to Sprint as CEO a year ago. Britain's Vodafone and Verizon Communications, up 10 cents at $37.47, are possible buyers.
Software maker Adobe Systems Inc. jumped $3.58, or 9.0% to $39.85 as it doubled its income in the latest quarter, beating Wall Street estimates. But computer network equipment maker 3Com Corp. slipped 37 cents, or 5.2%, to $6.69, after reporting a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss.