Nasdaq drops over Microsoft split talk

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The Independent Online

Stocks fell in early trading on Monday as an already skittish market was unnerved by published reports that the Justice Department was leaning toward asking a federal judge to break up Microsoft Corp.

The Nasdaq composite index tumbled 220.26, or 6 per cent, to 3,422.64, largely on a big drop in Microsoft's price, in the first hour of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 55.54 or 0.5 percent, at 10,788.51, having recovered from an earlier drop of 146 points.

Microsoft's stock was down nearly$12 at the $67 a share level.

Microsoft's antitrust battles, which resulted in a federal judge's April 3 ruling against the company, have already sent the market into a tailspin. Monday's report in The Washington Post and USA Today said a Justice Department plan being shared with states and industry executives envisions Microsoft being split into two or three separate companies.

Market analysts said nervousness about first-quarter earnings reports also hurt stocks. Many big companies are announcing their results this week.