Wall Street surprised a lot of investors today by passing up the opportunity to hold a victory rally to celebrate the collapse of Saddam Hussein's rule over Baghdad.
Stock traders spent the morning watching U.S. troops and Baghdad residents topple a statue of Saddam, so preoccupied with the television pictures that they hardly bothered with the market.
Early trading volume ran roughly half what the market did a week ago and when traders finally did get down to business, they decided there was no reason to get excited about what events in Iraq mean for Wall Street.
An early rally quickly faded. By noon the indexes were losing ground. Volume picked up, but still ran lighter than usual and by the end of the day all the major indexes showed significant losses.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 101 points to 8,197.94.
The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index lost 12 points, closing at 865.99.
The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index dropped 26, down to 1,356.74.
Part of the explanation for the down day was "been there, done that."
Wall Street had already celebrated victory in Iraq last Wednesday, when the Dow gained more than 200 points. Some traders figured stock prices had already factored in what was happening in Baghdad.
Reacting to events before they occur is what makes the stock market a leading economic indicator, and today the market may have been looking beyond victory in Iraq at what comes next.
Fallout from the Iraq war will hang over the world economy for the next year or more, the International Monetary Fund cautioned in its annual global forecast.
The IMF cut its prediction of this year's growth rate by half a percentage point, from 3.7 percent to 3.2 percent, to account for the post-war hangover.
Reinforcing the worries were the day's round of early peeks at first quarter profits, which were mostly negative. So far twice as many companies have warned Wall Street to expect weaker earnings than have promised to deliver better-than-expected profits.