Stock prices fell for the third day in a row as anxious investors fretted that second-quarter corporate profits will not grow as fast as Wall Street has been counting on.
Technology stocks led the decline after Veritas Software Corp. and computer chip maker Conexant Systems reported disappointing results.
Other negatives included rapidly rebounding oil prices and the monthly survey of the services sector of the economy by the Institute for Supply Management, which fell to its lowest level of the year.
The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index fell 43 points to 1,963.43. The 2.1 percent loss was the index's worst since March.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 63 points to 10,219.34.
The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index dropped nine points to 1,116.19.
So far, it's been all downhill since the third quarter began.
In three days of trading the Dow and S&P have fallen about 2 percent and the Nasdaq Composite is off more than 4 percent.
Wall Street was already resigned to forecasts that earnings reports for the second quarter would show less growth than companies achieved in the first quarter, but now the concern is that even that target will not be met.
Today's announcement by Veritas caught investors off guard, because the company said nothing about disappointments last Friday when it scheduled the official release of its results for later in the month. Then unexpectedly today, the company issued an early warning that profits would fall short of the company's target because of slumping sales during the waning days of June. If that's true, it could mean that the big companies that buy Veritas's software had looked at their own results and decided they did not warrant a big investment in software.
The report from the Institute for Supply Management reinforced the worries about slower growth that were triggered by last week's jobs report, which showed not only that the number of new jobs created last month was half what economists had been expecting, but also that job growth the prior two months was less than initial estimates.
Erratic oil prices also could keep investors jumpy. After falling steadily until last week, crude oil prices have popped right back up, pushed higher by an attack that cut into Iraq's oil exports.
All those concerns were reflected in today's analysis from Smith Barney strategist Tobias Levkovich, who looked at five factors that could determine the direction of the market. None were positive, two were negative and three neutral -- but one of them was trending down.
Stocks "are not particularly compelling" to investors, he said.