U.S. stocks fell for the fifth day in six, and analysts blamed the appearance of an audiotape apparently recorded by Osama bin Laden.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 77.00, or 1 percent, to 7843.11, and the Nasdaq Stock Market composite index dropped 1.22, or 0.1 percent, to 1295.46. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 6.77, or 0.8 percent, to 829.20. All three are at their lowest point since Oct. 10.
Stocks, which had gained after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told the Senate Banking Committee that the economy should grow faster when tensions with Iraq are resolved, turned lower as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told the Senate Budget Committee about the tape. Stocks touched their lows for the day as U.S. television and radio carried the al-Jazeera TV network's broadcast of the tape.
Microsoft, the largest software maker and biggest company by market value, fell 94 cents, to $46.44. Citigroup, the largest financial services company, lost 84 cents, to $32.05.
Scholastic tumbled $7.71, to $25.95. The U.S. publisher of Harry Potter novels said it will break even in the quarter ending Feb. 28 as sales of schoolbooks trail its expectations. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had forecast a profit of 31 cents a share.
MetLife fell $1.38, to $24.62. The biggest U.S. life insurer said fourth-quarter profit excluding investment gains was 47 cents per share, below the 64-cent average estimate of analysts surveyed by First Call.
Concord EFS dropped 73 cents, to $12.85. Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Dris Upitis told clients that profit estimates for the owner of the largest network of automated teller machines are "unrealistic." Upitis cut the shares to "neutral" from "outperform."
Interstate Bakeries fell $3.42, to $10.22. The maker of Hostess Twinkies and Wonder Bread slashed its profit forecast for the year ending May 31 to 90 cents to 95 cents a share, excluding some costs, from $1.30 previously. The company said it will close about 100 thrift stores because of weaker-than-expected demand.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 24.08, to 4708.69; the American Stock Exchange index fell 1.00, to 812.95; and the Russell 2000 index fell 2.14, to 359.96.
* Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones by 13 to 9 on the NYSE, where trading volume rose to 1.29 billion shares, from 1.22 billion on Monday. On the Nasdaq, decliners outnumbered advancers by 7 to 6 and volume totaled 1.29 billion, up from 1.19 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note rose 94 cents per $1,000 invested, and its yield fell to 3.96 percent, from 3.98 on Monday.
* The dollar fell against the yen and rose against the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 121.06 yen, down from 121.15 late Monday, and a euro bought $1.0738, down from $1.0745.
* Light, sweet crude oil for March delivery settled at $35.44, up 96 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
* Gold for current delivery fell to $362.50 a troy ounce, from $363.70 on Monday, on the mercantile exchange's Commodity Exchange.