Stocks Plunge on Weak Tech Earnings

Stocks tanked today as weak earnings from technology bellwethers and worries about both inflation and the overall health of the economy drove Wall Street to one of its worst performances in recent months.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 191.24 points, or 1.86 percent, to finish at 10,087.51. The index had flirted with the 11,000 level just a month ago but lost in excess of 400 points this week alone and is now trading at a five-month lows and is in danger of falling below 10,000.

Nasdaq Biggest Loser

The week marked the first time in more than two years the Dow has had three straight sessions with losses of more than 100 points in a row.

The Nasdaq was actually the day’s biggest percentage loser, giving up 38.56 points, or 1.98 percent, to 1,908.15. The S&P 500 gave up 19.43 points, or 1.67 percent.

Economic weakness hinted at in some earnings reports and forecasts were echoed in a Federal Reserve report showing a slowdown in industrial output, with production rising 0.3 percent in March, much of it attributed to utility production.

Inflation a Worry, Too

Ironically, given the economic growth concerns, inflation is still on the minds of many investors. A report from the Commerce Department showing that import costs rose more than anticipated last month revived worries that inflation would creep into the economy. Overall import costs were up 1.8 percent; even without the impact of oil, prices still rose 0.3 percent, more than expected.

There was some good news, though it was largely ignored by investors.

General Electric reported a 25 percent increase in profits, citing strong sales worldwide. And oil prices declined after rising yesterday, giving up 64 cents to $50.49 to close a second straight week of declining prices.

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