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MARKET OFF SHARPLY IN LATE TRADING

Stocks fell sharply and steadily today amid increasing concerns about the weakening dollar, the growing U.S. trade deficit and the upcoming earnings season.

At 3 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 203.27 at 10,620.63.

Broader stock indicators also fell, with the Standard & Poor's 500 index off 23.80 to 1,311.72 and the Nasdaq composite falling 50.64 to 2,835.51.

Although the markets fell throughout the day, analysts said the selloff was a calm one, mostly growing out of the uncertainties raised by recent economic news.

The big losers on the Dow included General Electric, which slipped 3 to 119. Hewlett Packard fell 3 5/1 6 to 100 3/4 , and J.P. Morgan fell 3 3/1 6 to 118 1 5/1 6.

"There's no panic selling," said Barry Berman, head trader for Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee. "It has the feel of a market that was a little overextended, given the background of uncertainty."

Foremost in many investors' minds was the dollar's continuing slide against the Japanese yen. The U.S. currency was quoted at 104.64 yen today, down from 106 yen.

A weaker dollar can be inflationary, and possibly lead to higher interest rates in this country. As well, it attracts investors to Asia, and away from U.S. stocks, said Charles White, president and portfolio manager at Avatar Associates.

Amid such foreign currency worries, investors are increasingly fearful that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates for a third time this year to combat inflation. The Fed's Open Market Committee meets in two weeks.

Early morning news that the trade deficit ballooned to a monthly record of $25.2 billion in July disappointed investors. To many economists' surprise, imports rose to an all-time high as consumers bought foreign cars and other goods.

Apple Computer's announcement late Monday that its earnings for the current quarter would be hurt by a shortage of chips shook Wall Street, which had been quite optimistic in general about corporate profits.

Apple was trading at 71, down 8 1/1 6 today.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by an 10-to-3 margin on the New York Stock Exchange.

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