The first contraction of the nation's service sector in nearly five years sent the markets tumbling during the midday with the Dow plummetingf 262 points to 12,374. Nasdaq plunged 45 points to 2338.
On the upside
IDM Pharma (Nasdaq: IDMI) reported positive late stage trial results of its bone cancer treatment.
Although Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) reported lower fourth quarter earnings that fell short of expectations, the company's Venetian Macao results rose.
Fourth quarter earnings fell for Avon Products (NYSE: AVP) due to restructuring charges but the results surpassed expectations.
On the downside
VCA Antech (Nasdaq: WOOF) reported fourth quarter revenue that fell short of expectations in a preliminary earnings release prompting a downgrade.
Rainmaker Systems (Nasdaq: RMKR) blamed the loss of a major client for guiding 2008 revenue below expectations.
Fourth quarter earnings plummeted to fall far short of estimates for Principal Financial (NYSE: PFG) due to difficult conditions in the financial markets.
In the broad market, declining issues outpaced advancers by a margin of more than 3 to 1 on the NYSE and by more than 2 to 1 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks tumbled 10 points to 714.