* Oracle shares slide after weak results
* U.S. existing home sales rise, jobless claims up but on
* Dow off 0.6 pct; S&P 500 off 0.7 pct, Nasdaq off 0.9 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, March 21 (Reuters) - Technology and
commodity-related stocks led Wall Street down on Thursday as oil
and metal prices fell on concern about euro-zone growth and
after Oracle's sharp miss on quarterly results.
Worries about Cypriot finances increased after the European
Union gave Cyprus until Monday to raise the billions of euros it
needs to get an international bailout, or face the collapse of
its financial system and likely exit from the euro bloc.
Investors fear a collapse of the banking system in Cyprus
will tighten credit across Europe and become yet another hurdle
in the region's bumpy road out of economic crisis.
The ultimatum to Cyprus intensified the risk level in
markets and increased investors' uncertainty, according to Chad
Morganlander, portfolio manager at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in
Florham Park, New Jersey.
"The uncertainty within Cyprus has investors cycling into
the risk-off trade," Morganlander said.
Gold and U.S. Treasury debt prices rose and the euro dropped
near its 2013 low against the U.S. dollar.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 92.88 points or
0.64 percent, to 14,418.85. The S&P 500 lost 10.49 points
or 0.67 percent, to 1,548.22. The Nasdaq Composite
dropped 28.75 points or 0.88 percent, to 3,225.44.
The benchmark S&P 500 index is on track to post only its
second weekly percentage drop so far this year, a testament to
its impressive 2013 run.
Oracle Corp shares lost 8.9 percent to $32.60 after
a number of brokerages cut their price targets on the stock
following a massive miss on its third-quarter results.
Data showed the euro zone's economy contracted more than
expected in March, which overshadowed a batch of reports
suggesting the U.S. economic recovery was on the right track and
solid first-quarter growth in China.
A downward trend in jobless claims, an increase in factory
activity and a rise in sales of existing homes pointed to
growing momentum in the U.S. economy during the first quarter of
the year. Initial claims for U.S. unemployment benefits inched
higher in the latest week, but the four-week average of new
claims - a measure of labor market trends - fell to its lowest
level in five years.
But the weak data from Europe drove down oil and copper
prices. The S&P basic materials sector index fell 1.2
percent, making it the biggest drag on the S&P 500.
Shares of apparel retailers Guess, Tilly's
and Pacific Sunwear of California slid after they
forecast first-quarter results significantly below analysts'
Guess fell 5.5 percent to $25.48, Tilly's shed 8 percent to
$12.66, and Pacific Sunwear lost 9.8 percent to $2.20.