Stocks fall as Viagra scare hits Pfizer Dow industrials lose 17 points, to 9,114, but are up 18 on week


NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks fell yesterday, led by drug shares, after Pfizer Inc. reported that six patients taking the new impotence drug Viagra had died.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 17.93 to 9,114.44, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 4.17 to 1,110.47. The computer-heavy Nasdaq composite index dropped 15.99 to 1,805.00, its third straight drop.

Pfizer fell $3.6875 to $105.4375. It's still unclear whether Viagra played a role in the deaths.

Dell Computer Corp. led the drop in the Nasdaq, falling $1.4375 to $85.625 in its third straight decline. The personal computer company said in its earnings report Tuesday that its average sales price for a PC fell 9 percent, raising concern that Dell isn't immune to industry price cuts.

Dell has more than doubled since the end of 1997, making it the second-best performer in the S&P; 500 after Apple Computer Inc. Yet it is now down 13 percent from the record it set just seven sessions ago.

Among drug companies, Merck & Co. fell 68.75 cents to $118; Eli Lilly & Co. dropped $1.0625 to $66; and Johnson & Johnson dropped 43.75 cents to $70.50.

For the week, the Dow rose 18.44 points, the S&P; gained 1.74 and the Nasdaq lost 41.77.

Among other broad market indexes yesterday, the Russell 2,000 index of small capitalization stocks lost 4.20 to 462.99; the Wilshire 5,000 index dropped 46.95 to 10,497.71; the American Stock Exchange composite index slid 1.79 to 730.57; and the S&P; 400 midcap index fell 3.21 to 363.22.

The Bloomberg Maryland index, which tracks the top 100 stocks in Maryland, dropped 2.65 to 232.98.

Manugistics Group Inc. shares tumbled $18.625 to $29.25, bringing its two-day loss to 48 percent, after the maker of manufacturing software said it would lose money this quarter because of sluggish sales.

Ciena Corp. fell $2.8125 to $49.25 after the phone-equipment maker said it doesn't know when orders from its biggest customers will pick up. The company said it still expects to meet fiscal 1998 sales targets of $600 million.

Autodesk Inc. fell $2.50 to $42 after the software company said first-quarter earnings rose to 55 cents, 3 cents better than estimates.

Declining stocks outnumbered advancers by a 9-to-5 margin on the New York Stock Exchange. About 440 million shares changed hands on the Big Board, the second-lightest day this year after Friday, Jan. 2.

Many traders took off early for Memorial Day holiday. The market is closed on Monday.

Amgen Inc. rallied $3.75 to $65.1875 after a report in Business Week's "Inside Wall Street" column that DuPont Co. could offer $25 billion, or $95 a share, to buy the world's largest biotechnology company.

Zenith Electronics Corp. didn't open for trading. The U.S. television maker proposed a bankruptcy reorganization plan that would make its present shares worthless. Zenith fell $1.375 to 62.5 cents on Thursday.

Chase Manhattan Corp. gained 68.75 cents to $144.4375 after a person familiar with the situation dismissed a German news agency's report that the bank may merge with Deutsche Bank AG. Deutsche Bank said it doesn't comment on speculation as a matter of policy.

Merrill Lynch & Co. gained $1.625 to $93.875.

The largest U.S. broker is in talks to buy the East European and Russian businesses of Regent Pacific Group Ltd., a Hong Kong-based fund manager and securities firm, people familiar with the companies' plans said.

Microsoft fell 81.25 cents to $85.5625 as it lost its bid for a seven-month delay to respond to sweeping antitrust suits. A trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 8.

Pub Date: 5/23/98

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