Midday Report: Nasdaq Lower as Profit Gloom Spreads

The worry over corporate profits dogging the tech sector for months hasspread to other industries as well, contributing to a broad-based stockmarket decline Thursday as of midday.

Investor disappointment that Federal Reserve policymakers did not comethrough with a bigger rate cut earlier this week continued to weigh onstocks, as did a new round of corporate profit warnings.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index was down 10.03 at 1,820.20 by midday,led by declines in drugmaker Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN), as well as techbenchmarks Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW).

Intel, GoTo Gain

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), however, was up US$1.19 at $26.75.

Paid-for-results search engine GoTo (Nasdaq: GOTO) was up 31 cents at $6.16 after raising itsexpectations for the quarter ending in March. The company, whichcollects money from advertisers who are listed in its directory, said that it isdoing brisk business and adding new customers.

Dow – Ow!

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, meanwhile, was down 255.57 at 9,231.43, andthe Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was down 26.59 at 1,095.55.

Lucent (NYSE: LU) was down 70 cents at $10.70, following reports that the telecom company’s Agere Systems unit delayed its planned initial publicoffering (IPO) until next week and cut the price of the shares to $6 to $7 apiece, down from $12 to $14.

Discount brokerage Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCH) was down $1.25 at $14.65 afterwarning of slowing results and announcing a plan to cut jobs. Online brokersE*Trade (NYSE: ET) and Knight Trading (Nasdaq: NITE) were also lower.

E-Tail Issues Slide

Overall, the E-Commerce TimesIndex was down 1.49 percent, pulled lower by declines in Drugstore.com (Nasdaq: DSCM), PetSmart (Nasdaq: PETM), Barnesandnoble.com (Nasdaq: BNBN) and E*Trade.

Barnesandnoble.com fell 9 cents to $1.12 after the e-tailer’sbrick-and-mortar affiliate, Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) reported afourth-quarter loss and said it expects retail sales for the first half ofthis year to be below year-earlier levels.

NetIQ (Nasdaq: NTIQ) fell $4.11 to $16.02 after the company, which makese-business infrastructure software, lowered its outlook for the quarterending this month and delayed planned shareholder votes on the acquisitionof WebTrends (Nasdaq: WEBT). WebTrends was also lower.

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