Prices skidded Thursday on Wall Street as investors were unnerved by the possibility that the Federal Reserve, fresh from pushing interest rates higher earlier this week, was preparing to do it again.
Some analysts called the market’s drop, which followed a surge in bond yields to six-month highs, an overreaction since it has been widely predicted that Tuesday’s move by the nation’s central bank would be the first of several interest rate increases.
The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 140.11 to close at 6,740.59, the blue chips’ eighthlargest decline in terms of points and a much less spectacular 2 percent drop. The Dow did manage to regain 76 points in late trading after having been down almost 217 points during the last half-hour.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the New York Stock Exchange by about 3 to 1. Volume on the floor of the Big Board came to 475.93 million shares as of 4 p.m., down from 487.33 million in the previous session.
Analysts said trading also was affected by technical factors, including end-of-the-quarter portfolio adjustments. And they noted the market’s late plunge came on relatively light volume because many traders left early for a three-day weekend. The stock market will be closed for Good Friday.
Some of the stocks that moved substantially or were traded heavily Thursday:
Quaker Oats, up 1/4 at 37-3/4.
Triarc, up 1-5/8 at 17-3/8.
The Chicago-based Quaker Oats agreed to sell its Snapple beverage business to New York-based Triarc Cos. Inc. for $300 million.
NGC, down 4 at 15-3/8.
The Houston-based energy products and services marketer said a $28 million expense in its natural gas liquids business will drive down first-quarter profits below expectations.
John H. Harland, down 1-1/4 at 24-1/2.
The Atlanta-based supplier of checks, database marketing services and loan automation software to the financial industry said late Wednesday that it expects first-quarter earnings to fall short of analysts’ expectations.
Software Spectrum, down 4-1/8 at 16.
The Garland, Texas-based supplier of microcomputer software and technology services said sales in February and March improved over January but are not expected to fully compensate for the low level of January sales.
Sharper Image, up 7/8 at 4-1/4.
The San Francisco-based retailer reported fourth-quarter and year-end earnings that were above Wall Street analysts’ estimates.
Dialogic, down 7-41/64 at 19-5/8.
The Parsippany, N.J.-based maker of computer telephone components expects first-quarter net income to be below analysts’ estimates.