January 19, 2011 / 9:31 PM / 9 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St has worst drop in 2 months on banks, tech

* Goldman Sachs’ results sow doubt on bank earnings

* Stellar earnings unable to lift Apple

* Cree and other LED makers sink semis

* Dow down 0.1 pct, S&P down 1 pct, Nasdaq off 1.5 pct * For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US] (Updates to close)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Jan 19 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 suffered its biggest decline in nearly two months on Wednesday as disappointing results from Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo put a damper on the rally.

The Nasdaq fell more than 1 percent, its biggest daily percentage loss since Nov. 16, as more disappointment in earnings came from chipmaker Cree Inc (CREE.O). Its stock tumbled 14.5 percent to $53.63.

Financial and technology stocks have been driving the surge that has pushed the benchmark index up nearly 10 percent since the start of December, which some investors believe has stocks primed for a pullback.

“Even stocks here that are beating expectations are not acting favorably so (for) the market, it may be time for a pause, and that may be what we are seeing here.” said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

A prime example was Apple Inc (AAPL.O), which slipped 0.5 percent to $338.84 after the company reported a quarterly profit that blew past Wall Street’s expectations on strong sales of iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. [ID:nN18171874]

Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s stock fell 4.7 percent to $166.49, its biggest daily percentage decline since April 30, after the Wall Street firm posted a 53 percent drop in profit as trading revenue tumbled. For details, see [ID:nN18199881]. Shares of Wells Fargo & Co lost 2 percent to $31.81 after the company posted a fourth-quarter profit that missed some analysts’ estimates. [ID:nN18214803]

“You are having a lot of people coming into this sector over the last couple of weeks for more longer-range investment planning. You’ve got some people that came into the trade behind them that now see their short-term trade isn’t going to work,” Mendelsohn said.

Optimism about financial-sector earnings increased after JPMorgan Chase’s (JPM.N) results on Friday beat targets.

The Dow’s loss was limited by International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N), which climbed 3.4 percent to $155.69 on strong earnings after the close on Tuesday, [ID:nN18146899]

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 12.64 points, or 0.11 percent, to 11,825.29. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX lost 13.10 points, or 1.01 percent, to 1,281.92. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC dropped 40.49 points, or 1.46 percent, to 2,725.36.

CROSSING THE RUBICON

Shares of Cree and its rival LED lighting makers fell after it reported weaker-then-expected sales, profit and a current quarter outlook late on Tuesday. [ID:nN18144022]

The PHLX semiconductor index .SOX also dropped 2.4 percent, its worst percentage decline since Aug. 30.

Rubicon Technology Inc (RBCN.O) slumped 7.7 percent to $$20.75 and circuit maker Linear Technology Corp LLTC.O fell 4.4 percent to $34.56.

American Express Co (AXP.N) lost 2.4 percent at $45.24 after it said restructuring charges would reduce fourth-quarter earnings. [ID:nN19218088]

Volume was slightly below average with about 8.35 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, just short of last year’s estimated daily average of 8.47 billion.

Declining stocks far outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,319 to 673, while on the Nasdaq, decliners beat advancers 2,218 to 460. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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