* Oracle plunges after price target cuts; shares off 10 pct
* Philly Fed factory activity expands in March
* U.S. existing home sales touch three-year high
* U.S. jobless claims point to improving labor market
* Indexes down: Dow 0.6 pct; S&P 0.6 pct, Nasdaq 0.9 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, March 21 (Reuters) - Wall Street fell on Thursday
as Oracle dragged technology stocks down sharply, while
investors kept an eye on events in Cyprus as it struggled to
avoid a banking collapse.
The steep decline in the tech sector overshadowed a batch of
data that suggested U.S. economic recovery was on the right
track, including improvements in factory activity in the
Oracle Corp shares were down nearly 10 percent at
$32.18 after a number of brokerages cut their price target on
the company following a severe miss by its third-quarter
The European Central Bank gave Cyprus until Monday to raise
billions of euros to clinch an international bailout or face
losing emergency funds for its banks and inevitable collapse.
But despite the day's decline, the S&P is still up about 9
percent up for the year and the Dow is up 10 percent so far in
"There is definitely more momentum left to the upside. In
many days, we see the market start off lower but we manage to
cut that by the end o the day. That's market strength," said
Frank Gretz, chief technical analyst at Shields & Co in New
But further weakness came from abroad. German data
suggesting Europe's largest economy would eke out meagre growth
this quarter, rattled investors already nervous about Cyprus's
Oracle, the world's No. 3 software maker, blamed its rapidly
expanding salesforce for a severe miss in third-quarter software
sales and warned that its ailing hardware business will lose
more ground this quarter. The company reported results late
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 85.44
points, or 0.59 percent, at 14,426.29. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 9.10 points, or 0.58 percent, at
1,549.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 26.76
points, or 0.82 percent, at 3,227.43.
Technology stocks were the biggest decliners. IBM
shares were off 1.9 percent at $210.93 and Cisco Systems
shares fell 3.5 percent at $20.93.
The latest data on the domestic jobs market showed the
number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits edged
higher last week, but a trend reading dropped to its lowest in
five years and pointed to healing in the labor setor.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business
activity index rose to 2 from minus 12.5 in February, topping
economists' expectations for minus 2. Market reaction was muted
to both data.