NEW YORK – Stocks surrendered modest gains during the day and ended up on negative ground Tuesday, although the losses were tiny compared with Monday's historic tumble.
Analysts still expect the market to be weak and vulnerable throughout the week. Investors now have more to be nervous about — namely, the prospect of war — than the weak economy, which had been dragging down stocks for weeks.
"I don't think (investors) are willing to take any big bets right now," said Peter Gottlieb, portfolio manager at First Albany Asset Management in Chicago.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 17.30 points, or 0.19 percent, to end at 8,903.40, its lowest finish since mid-December 1998.
The Nasdaq composite index dropped 24.41 points, or 1.55 percent, to 1,555.14. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 6.01 points, or 0.58 percent, to 1,032.76. It was the lowest finish for the S&P and the Nasdaq since mid-October 1998.
Year to date, the Dow is down 17.5 percent, the S&P is off 21.8 percent and the Nasdaq is down 37 percent.
"The market was in an established downtrend ahead of this disaster and there's nothing about a disaster that should improve the established downtrend,'' said Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller & Washington, a fund firm that manages $375 million.
Technology stocks initially rose on an upbeat profit forecast by software maker Oracle Corp., but gains evaporated in the afternoon. Battered airline stocks bounced, including Delta Air Lines, recouping some of Monday's heavy losses on fears consumers will avoid flying in the wake of the attack.
"I think it's going to be days and weeks, maybe mid-October, before you can stage a sustainable rally,'' said Robert Robbins, chief investment strategist at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. "The impact of the terrorist attack has basically caused a downward revision of the consensus of the investment community from a near miss on a recession to a mild recession.''
On Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average posted its biggest one-day point loss despite the Federal Reserve's surprise interest rate cut. The Dow lost 678.52 points, or 7.07 percent, to 8,921.18. The move occurred amid a frenzy of selling that helped the New York Stock Exchange rack up its heaviest volume day ever, with some 2.36 billion shares trading hands.
However, the loss did not even make the top 10 biggest daily percentage drops, which is still headed by the 22.6 percent decline on Black Monday, when the stock market crashed on Oct. 19, 1987.
Tuesday's market action briefly pushed the blue-chip Dow Jones back above the 9,000-point level. Still, losers outpaced gainers on the New York Stock Exchange by 19 to 12, and 348 stocks hit new 52-week lows.
A heavy 1.67 billion shares changed hands on the Big Board and more than 1.86 billion on the Nasdaq.
Investors, still mourning the more than 5,000 people feared dead in the Trade Center tragedy, are just beginning to think of how the attacks will pressure already weak corporate earnings.
American Express fell 9.49 percent, or $2.87 to $27.38. The company warned its profit would be below analysts' estimates, because the terror attacks would create additional economic and market weakness throughout the travel and financial services industry.
Boeing, down $2.66 to $33.14, continued Monday's slide on fears airline industry suppliers will axe workers and slash research spending as air travel shrivels. Fellow Dow component Honeywell International Inc. fell 99 cents to $28.51, after warning of disappointing profits due to weakness in the commercial air transport market.
The Federal Reserve on Monday in a surprise move cut interest rates for the eighth time this year to shore up the flagging economy. Analysts believe the Fed has room for more cuts, after the Labor Department on Tuesday offered a tame inflation picture when it said U.S. consumer prices edged slightly higher in August.
A slew of other companies admitted that the attacks will slam their results, while some stood by financial targets.
Oracle added 37 cents to end at $11.38. The business software maker said its earnings will match year-ago levels, indicating its business is stabilizing. EBay Inc. gained 60 cents to $50 after the online auction retailer stood by earnings and revenue estimates.
Computer memory maker Rambus Inc. soared for the second day in a row, adding 16.7 percent to Monday's gains as investors cheered a $200 million, five-year licensing pact with Intel Corp., the No. 1 chipmaker. Rambus rose $1.11 to $7.76 while Intel gave up early gains to close down 12 cents at $23.47.
The Standard & Poor's airlines index bounced up 3.83 percent after Monday's stunning drop of 32 percent.
President Bush is considering direct financial aid to help U.S. airlines reeling from the fallout of the attacks, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans told Reuters.
Among the airliners, Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) rose $2.28 to $22.92. Some, however, added to losses, including Continental Airlines, off $2.33 at $17.72.
The Russell 2000 index, which measures the performance of smaller company stocks, fell 6.01 to 411.66.
Stocks were mixed overseas Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei stock average ended the day up 1.9 percent, but European markets fell. France's CAC-40 finished down 1.1 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 declined 1.0 percent, and Germany's DAX index lost 0.9 percent.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.