Stocks drop slightly in light trading

Associated Press

NEW YORK – Stocks slumped in light trading today as Wall Street nervously awaited the outcome of the presidential election.

Blue chips fluctuated in and out of positive territory as financial, defense and health care stocks gave back some of their gains from Monday. Technology stocks were volatile for a second day, pulled lower by concerns related to Cisco Systems’ earnings.

In late afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was off 31.85 at 10,945.36.

Broader stock indicators were lower. The Nasdaq composite index was down 12.29 at 3,403.92. The Standard &Poor’s 500 index slipped 2.55 to 1,429.64.

“People are being quiet today because of the election. They’re not willing to make any significant bets until that’s out of the way,” said Bob Streed, senior vice president at Northern Trust. “I would think that the market will rally when the election is over simply because the uncertainty is out of the way.”

Drug maker Merck slipped $1.44 to $88.44. Banker J.P. Morgan was off $2.50 at $163.94. Defense contractor Lockheed Martin was down 10 cents at $33.41.

The Dow was also pulled lower by General Motors, which fell $4 to $57.13 on a ratings downgrade by Goldman Sachs.

Cisco Systems rose $1.78 to $56.99 after reporting quarterly earnings late Monday that were slightly ahead of Wall Street estimates.

But investors were concerned that the networking company’s raw material inventory was so large that it would reduce orders to its suppliers, particularly chip makers. That sector tumbled today, with Applied Micro Circuits dropping $7.25 to $69.13 and PMC-Sierra sliding $25.75 to $128.06, a 17 percent loss.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 6-to-5 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 592.85 million shares, compared with 615.70 million Monday.

The Russell 2000 index fell 2.08 to 501.88.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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