NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks posted their biggest decline this month yesterday as technology issues slumped and shares of Walt Disney Co. slid on concern that the company's new animated film, "Pocahontas," won't gross as much as expected.
The entertainment company's stock fell $2.50, to $57, after the film grossed $30.5 million at the U.S. box office this weekend. While it outsold Time Warner Inc.'s "Batman Forever," totals from the film's national debut fell short of some analysts' estimates and Disney's previous animated release.
"Disney's probably been a victim of its own success," said Charles Cruice, president of Greenville Capital Management, which manages about $340 million. "They had tremendous success with 'The Lion King,' and here's something that came in 25 to 30 percent less."
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 34.59, to 4,551.25, its biggest one-day drop since a 43.23-point loss on May 26. It was the 30-stock average's fourth decline in the last five sessions. Losses in Disney, Boeing Co., Eastman Kodak Co. and Philip Morris Cos. paced the decline.
Disney's shares gained 10.2 percent from May 19 through the end of last week amid optimism that "Pocahontas" would drive earnings growth the next three quarters.
Shares of Boeing fell $1.75, to $63.625, after PT Garuda Indonesia, the nation's airline, said it would cut the size of aircraft orders placed with Boeing and its competitors because of mounting financial difficulties.
Among broad market indexes, the Standard & Poor's 500 index slumped 5.58, to 544.13, its biggest drop since a 7.49-point loss on May 18 and its third-straight decline from its record high of 551.07. The index had posted a record about once every three days this year before its recent descent. Losses in the shares of retail, telephone, drug and entertainment issues offset gains in beverage, hospital management and engineering stocks.
More than two stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange, where about 297 million shares traded hands. The three-month daily average is 341 million.
The technology-laden Nasdaq composite index, meanwhile, tumbled 11.89, to 926.98. That was its biggest drop since May 30's 13.17-point slide, although just its fifth drop in the last 19 sessions. Shares of Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp., Oracle Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. fell the most.
Shares of Texas Instruments Inc. dropped $2.375, to $138.50; Intel gave up 62.5 cents, to $65; Motorola Inc. shed $1.125, to $66.125; Micron Technology Inc. gave up 62.5 cents, to $57; Compaq Computer Corp. fell $1.50, to $43.375; Apple Computer Inc. gave up 62.5 cents, to $48.125; Microsoft lost $1.375, to $89.75; and Oracle fell $1.125, to $38.125.
Shares of health maintenance organizations also fell amid concern that competition among too many providers is keeping premiums low and hurting profitability.
Shares of Oxford Health Plans Inc. fell $4.125, to $52.25; Healthsource Inc. tumbled $4.875, to $39.50; US Healthcare Inc. shed 75 cents, to $33; Humana Inc. fell 50 cents, to $18.875; and FHP International Corp. dropped 75 cents, to $23.50.
United Healthcare Corp. bucked the trend, rising as much as $1.875, to $44.875, before closing the day unchanged at $43. The company announced plans to buy MetraHealth Cos. for $1.65 billion in cash and stock, creating the largest U.S. health-care management company. United Healthcare will replace US Healthcare in the top spot.