New York Weaker-than-expected retail sales gave investors another reason to take profits Wednesday, sending stocks sharply lower and the Dow Jones industrials down 130 points.
The selling spread across the market, with the technology sector hard hit by more downgrades based on worries the sector had become overvalued. Analysts said Wall Street was playing it safe, awaiting more indications that business is improving.
Retail stocks fell broadly, with Wal-Mart losing 24 cents to $61.99. The Gap slid 11 cents to $13.95. Target dropped 74 cents to $43.74.
Tech stocks fell for a second session. Investors bid Intel down $1.65 to $31.34 after J.P. Morgan lowered its estimates for the chipmaker. J.P. Morgan also expressed concern about rival AMD, which fell $1.45 to $14.30.
Pharmaceutical stocks fared better as investors looked for less risky bets. Investors bid Merck up 88 cents to $4.37.