Dow falls nearly 400 points, hits lowest level in nearly four years

Friday, July 19th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Dow tumbled nearly 400 points Friday in a sell-off that brought the index to its lowest level in almost four years.

It was the average's seventh-biggest point-drop ever.

Mixed earnings results from some companies and news of a government investigation at Johnson & Johnson gave already nervous investors more reasons to pull back.

The decline was compounded by selling that was due to a reconfiguration of the Standard & Poor's 500 index, as well as the expiration of some index and stock options.

The Dow closed down 390.23 points, or 4.6 percent, at 8,019.26, according to preliminary calculations. It was down as much as 442 points in the final minutes of the session.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq index fell 37.88, or 2.8 percent, to 1,319.07, and the S&P tumbled 33.81, or 3.8 percent, at 847.75.

``There is just no good news out there right now, and people are not willing to get involved in the market going into a weekend,'' said Bryan Piskorowski of Prudential Securities. ``You've got a buyers' strike going on.''

The Dow is now 216 points beneath its old post-attacks low point, set on Sept. 21.

The last time the index finished this low was in October 1998.

The declines gave the three major indexes their ninth straight losing week, a slide attributed to the accounting scandals and concerns that business is not recovering strongly or quickly enough.

Not a single stock in the Dow managed to end regular trading with a gain.

Declining issues led advancers nearly 4-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was heavy.

J&J dropped $7.88, nearly 16 percent, to $41.55 after The New York Times reported that the Food and Drug Administration and the Justice Department investigating a factory that makes an anemia drug linked to illnesses in Europe and Canada. The company told the newspaper that it was aware of a government investigation, but did not know its precise nature.

Merck fell 50 cents to $41.50 after reporting second-quarter results in line with expectations despite a 4 percent drop in profits.

In the tech sector, Microsoft fell $1.55 to $49.56 after beating analysts' expectations but reducing its forecast for later this year.

Sun Microsystems fell $1.55 to $4.25, a new 52-week low, after reporting results in line with expectations, but indicating its current quarter's results are being affected by difficult business conditions.

American Express dropped $1.88 to $31.65, while ExxonMobil tumbled $2.35 to $32.40.