Stocks were mostly lower today as a tame report on inflation only briefly eased fears that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. Technology shares led the decline, giving up some of Tuesday's sharp gains.
In late afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 8.55 at 10,901.78. The index had fallen back from an early gain of 103 points.
Broader stock indicators were also lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 3.80 at 1,332.49, while the Nasdaq composite index dropped 23.68 to 2,844.61, after climbing more than 23 points Tuesday.
Stocks initially rose today after the Labor Department reported that the August increase in its Consumer Price Index -- the most closely watched inflation gauge -- matched the 0.3 percent July advance.
The news initially calmed worries that the Fed will need to boost interest rates for the third time this year as it tries to prevent inflation from escalating. But continued weakness in the dollar helped turn stocks lower again.
Today in New York, the dollar was trading at 104.29 yen, down from 105.79 yen late Tuesday and the lowest level against the Japanese currency in more than three years. Although the dollar has held up well against European currencies, its slide against the yen has added to the pressure on stocks.
Investors fear a weaker dollar because it makes imports more expensive, setting the stage for price inflation. It can also make foreign investors in U.S. stocks more likely to put their money in domestic investments.
Oracle fell 3 1 5/1 6 to 41 1/2 after the company's fiscal first-quarter earnings, reported after markets closed Tuesday, failed to meet the most optimistic predictions of Wall Street analysts. Oracle earned 16 cents per share, in line with the published earnings estimates, but short of the "whisper" number, an unofficial forecast circulated among Wall Street traders.
J.P. Morgan rose 1 1 5/1 6 to 118 1 1/1 6 and General Electric Co., parent of GE Capital, gained 1 1 5/1 6 to 118 1 1/1 6. Financial firms are among the biggest beneficiaries when rates are stable or falling, because companies find it easier to plan investments in factories and employees, and demand for financing increases.
Visio Corp. surged 7 1/8 to 40 1/2 after the maker of technical drawing software agreed to sell itself to Microsoft Corp. for about $42.77 a share in stock. The agreement values Visio at about $1.3 billion. Microsoft fell 1 1/1 6 to 94.
Boston Scientific Corp., one of the biggest makers of artery-clearing products, fell 6 1/4 to 29 1/1 6, after reducing its third-quarter sales estimate by 4.8 percent after recalling one device and facing weak demand for another.