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Recession? What recession?

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Some say it's a recession, others a correction, but Monday's worldwide stock exchange slide following the trend set on Friday now has serious implications for the technology sector. The Dow Industrials declined 6.37 per cent to 7539, with the 512 point fall being greater than the 508 loss on Black Monday in 1987, while the Nasdaq composite index lost 140 points -- 8.56 per cent -- to close at 1499. The fall effectively wiped out all the 1998 gains. There were dramatic falls in Internet stocks, with AOL losing 14 13/16 to 81 7/16, Yahoo! 14 1/16 to 69, and amazon.com dropping more than 22 per cent to 83 3/4. The Amex Internet index fell 13.2 per cent. Amongst semiconductors, Intel gave up 5 13/16 to 71 3/16 and Texas Instruments 3 7/16 to 47 3/4. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index declined 8.3 per cent. Fears about the outcome of USA v Microsoft drove Microsoft down by 9 5/16 to 95 15/16, and the past four days have trimmed Bill Gates' savings account by around $9 billion. Netscape was 5 3/8 off at 18 1/8. PC makers finally fell after resisting significant falls last week. The winning loser, off 19 3/4 to 100, was Dell. Bay Networks managed a small gain, but Cisco was severely punished, falling 12 13/16 to 81 7/8. Wall Street economists remain optimistic that the US economy is in good shape, with high employment, low inflation, no sign of interest rate hikes, and therefore little prospect of a slump. Despite the Street increasingly defying the application of logic to p/e's that are beyond reason, investor psychology is holding up so far, but the situation is fragile. ®

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