NEW YORK: Stocks closed lower on Wall Street Thursday after Oracle’s weak sales results weighed down big U.S. technology companies. Traders also worried about the country of Cyprus running out of time to avoid bankruptcy.
Major indexes followed European markets lower at the open and remained solidly negative all day. The Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 129 points by midafternoon before paring the loss to close down 90 points.
All three major indexes felt the drag from technology stocks after Oracle reported an unexpected decline in sales in its fiscal third quarter. Oracle’s results have an outsized impact on other technology stocks because it reports earlier than most of its peers.
European markets had closed sharply lower. The main indexes in Paris and Frankfurt fell 1.4 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, on fear that the crisis in Cyprus will intensify. The European Central Bank has threatened to end emergency support of the nation’s banks next week unless leaders can secure more funding.
Cyprus must raise about $7.5 billion in the next four days to avoid bankruptcy. Several plans have failed, including a proposal to tax deposits held by the nation’s banks. If the Mediterranean banking haven is unable to secure a bailout, its banks will fail and it could be forced to leave the euro currency.
Oracle was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500 index; Juniper Networks also fell steeply. The S&P 500 closed down 12.91 points, or 0.8 percent, at 1,545.80.
The Dow dropped 90.24 points, or 0.6 percent, to 14,421.49. Cisco was the Dow’s biggest loser, followed by H-P. IBM also lost ground. The Nasdaq fell a full percentage point, down 31.59 points at 3,222.60.