Troubles in the technology sector pushed Wall Street's major benchmarks to their lowest levels since mid-May on Wednesday, with Apple Computer and a downgrade of Intel leading the market downward.
Investors' worries about consumer spending intensified after Apple reported lower-than-expected third-quarter revenue. The market got more troubling news from Prudential's downgrade of Intel, which said the company could face disappointing revenue and profit for as long as the next year.
Investors already were anxious about Federal Reserve interest rate hikes and high energy costs, issues that could hang over the market for months.
Stocks had opened higher after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said in a speech that the economy was weathering the recent jump in energy prices without major disruptions.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 36.26, or 0.4 percent, to 10,216.91. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index slipped 7.19, or 0.6 percent, to 1177.68. The technology-focused Nasdaq composite index dropped 23.62, or 1.1 percent, to 2037.47.
Apple tumbled $2.34, to $49.25. Although it beat Wall Street profit forecasts by a penny per share, its iPod sales missed expectations by a wide margin.
Intel fell 18 cents, to $23.24, after analysts at Prudential downgraded the chipmaker's stock, citing potential weakness in revenue and profit margins. Rival chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices fell $2.29, to $21, despite a 73 percent jump in third-quarter earnings.
Harley-Davidson rose $1.30, to $46.90, after the motorcycle manufacturer said strong worldwide shipments led to a 16 percent rise in profit.
Pfizer, a Dow component, rose 54 cents, to $24.84, after a British judge ruled to protect the company's patent on the cholesterol drug Lipitor, which had been challenged by a generic drugmaker.
Refco fell $3, or 21.7 percent, to $10.85. It had closed at $28.56 on Friday. The commodities brokerage said Monday that former chief executive Phillip R. Bennett had concealed $430 million in unpaid debts. Bennett repaid the company but was charged Wednesday with securities fraud.
New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 58.07, to 7322.74.
American Stock Exchange index fell 30.10, to 1622.87.
Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 8.51, to 621.57.
NYSE: 2.53 billion shares, up from 2.29 billion on Tuesday. Decliners outnumbered advancers 4 to 1.
Nasdaq: 2.04 billion shares, up from 1.85 billion. Decliners outnumbered advancers
3 to 1.
Crude oil for November delivery: $64.12, up 59 cents.
Gold for current delivery: $473.90 a troy ounce, down from $477.10 on Tuesday.