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Oracle sales, Cyprus weigh stocks down

Trader Anthony Riccio, center, works on the floor

Trader Anthony Riccio, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday. On Thursday, investors awaited U.S. weekly jobless claims, due at 7:30 a.m., as well as monthly home sales, due at 9 a.m., and lead indicators, due at 9 a.m. (March 20, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

Stocks closed lower on Wall Street on Thursday after Oracle's weak sales results weighed down big U.S. technology companies. Traders also worried about 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 the session down 90.24 points.

All three major indexes felt the drag from technology stocks after Oracle, the business-software giant, reported an unexpected decline in sales in its fiscal third quarter. Its results have an outsized impact on other technology stocks because it reports earlier than most of its peers. Oracle was the biggest decliner in the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

The S&P 500 closed down 0.83 percent at 1,545.80. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 14,421.49. The tech-heavy Nasdaq index fell 0.97 percent to 3,222.60.

Though down for the week, the Dow remains near a record high. Its run-up has been powered by optimism about the U.S. economy and the Federal Reserve's easy-money policies. The Dow is up 2.6 percent this month. The S&P 500 has gained 2.1 percent in March and is 20 points from its all-time high.

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