U.S. stocks fell, sending the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index to a 2004 low, as disappointing earnings projections from companies such as Andrew Corp. and Tyson Foods reinforced concern about a profit slowdown later this year.
"Recent forecasts for earnings have not quite met expectations," said Charles Stutenroth of Fort Washington Investment Advisors in Cincinnati. "There's a lot of concern floating around the elections, around terrorism. These things have conspired to create a soft spot."
Health care companies paced the decline. Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, slid 56 cents, to $31.74, after regulators cleared Merck and Schering-Plough's Vytorin, a competing medication. Merck slipped 16 cents, to $45. Schering-Plough added 81 cents, to $19.56.
The S&P 500 lost 2.13, or 0.2 percent, to 1084.07. An index of health-care shares accounted for half of the slide. The benchmark, which has shed 2.5 percent this year, is at the lowest since Dec. 17.
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.30, to 9961.92, as gains in telecom companies limited the loss. Verizon closed up $1.18, at $36.50; SBC gained 53 cents, to $24.75; BellSouth added 91 cents, to reach to $26.81; and AT&T advanced 71 cents, to $14.73.
The Nasdaq composite index decreased 10.07, or 0.5 percent, to 1839.02.
Andrew tumbled $3.38, to $11.39. The 23 percent slide was the steepest in the S&P 500. The maker of equipment for wireless telephone networks expects fourth-quarter earnings to be less than the 16-cent average analyst forecast in a Thomson Financial survey.
Tyson, the world's largest meat processor, lost $1.47, to settle at $18.48. Earnings this quarter will fall from a year ago as bans on U.S. chicken and beef hurt export sales, the company said.
Omnicare and Check Point Software Technologies also dropped following lower-than-expected forecasts. Omnicare, the largest provider of drugs to nursing homes, fell $8.87, to $29.33. Check Point, a maker of Internet security software, slumped $2.25, to $18.49.
Peter McCorry, a senior trader at Keefe Bruyette & Woods, attributed stock declines to fear of terrorist attacks during the U.S. political conventions and the Olympics.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 26.46, to 6297.64; the American Stock Exchange index fell 15.57, to 1217.90; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 5.74, to 533.49.
* Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones by 2 to 1 on the NYSE and the Nasdaq Stock Market. NYSE trading volume rose to 1.41 billion shares, from 1.34 billion on Friday, and Nasdaq volume totaled 1.64 billion, down from 1.69 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note fell $4.38 per $1,000 invested, and its yield rose to 4.49 percent, from 4.43 percent on Friday.
* The dollar fell against the Japanese yen and the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 109.85 yen, down from 110.09 late Friday, and a euro bought $1.2146, up from $1.2104.
* Light, sweet crude oil for September delivery settled at $41.44, down 27 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
* Gold for current delivery fell to $390.30 a troy ounce, from $390.50 on Friday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.