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Headline-grabbing valuations have lately given way to small-print corrections in tech stocks, which in turn have initiated an overall contraction in stock indices worldwide. Euro STOXX fell today for a five per cent loss, while the Eurotop 300 index was off 1.8 per cent. European tech, telecoms and media shares took a battering for a second day. Nokia fell 6.08 percent, and Baan, which dived 32 percent on Tuesday, fell a further 7.52 per cent. Mannesmann was off 3.87 per cent, Telefonica fell by 3.75 per cent, Deutsche Telekom lost 2.99 per cent, and France Telecom fell 2.5 percent. Things were even worse in America as the NASDAQ fell 3.51 percent or 136.76 points to 3,764.93 in early trading today. Yesterday it dived 5.55 per cent, to 3,901.69, its eighth worst fall. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3.17 percent, to 10,997.93, the largest one-day drop since last September. On Tuesday, the DJIA slid 359.58 points, or 3.17 percent, to 10,997.93. It was the Dow's fifth-largest point loss ever, and its first time below 11,000 since 1 December, all largely due to bad news regarding technology issues. Amazon slid 14.42 per cent this morning after reporting that Q4 1999 sales are inadequate to compensate the company's losses for the quarter. The company also reported its typical litany of expansion and inventory charges and write-downs. Amazon stock fell 11.81 points to 70.13, with a whopping 11.7 million shares changing hands. The mighty Qualcomm fell 12.96 percent to 141.06; Oracle fell 9.58 percent to 97.38; Cisco Systems fell 3.55 percent to 98.37; and Yahoo fell 6.42 percent to 414.56. Not even the re-nomination yesterday of Wall Street's beloved Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, could soothe frightened investors. Superstitious fears of an interest-rate hike again led to a bit of panic selling, though Greenspan has not himself indicated that such a hike is in the offing. Analysts appear to believe that present conditions are similar to conditions when the Fed has raised rates in the past, which is often evidence enough to put investors off. In Asia, the Hang Seng Index ended down more than seven per cent; Tokyo stocks fell by 2.4 per cent; South Korean stocks closed down 6.87 per cent; and Singapore shares fell by five per cent. Clearly, the American superstition is circulating. We wonder if it might be a substitute for Y2K rollover fears, now that they've been debunked. ®

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