New York Profit warnings from Dell Computer and Gap, job cuts by Ford Motor, an appeals court decision against Microsoft and a sharp decline in sales of U.S. goods abroad all combined to pummel Wall Street on Friday.
The Dow Jones industrials fell as much as 200 points before rebounding somewhat late in the session, while the Nasdaq composite index hit a new four-month low.
The sharp sell-off was an indication that investors are relinquishing their hopes that business will get better by the end of 2001.
"The bottom line is the market is coming to the realization that the second-half recovery is not going to be," said Gary Kaltbaum, market technician for Investors' Edge Partners.
Among Wall Street's biggest losers was Microsoft, both a Dow component and a Nasdaq stock, which fell $2.74 to $61.88 after a federal appeals court denied the software giant's request to delay its antitrust case.