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US: Stocks sink; Nasdaq drops 2.4%


[NEW YORK] US stocks fell sharply on Wednesday, with Nasdaq suffering the deepest declines on worries that technology and biotech equities have become overvalued.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index, which stood above 5,000 on Monday, plummeted 118.21 points (2.37 per cent) to 4,876.52.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 292.60 (1.62 per cent) to 17,718.54, while the broad-based S&P 500 fell 30.45 (1.46 per cent) to 2,061.05.

Analysts cited growing concerns that biotech shares in particular have risen to unjustifiably high levels behind clinical results for drugs that will not hit the market for many years.

Technology stocks with big declines included Apple (-2.6 per cent), Microsoft (-3.4 per cent) and Google (-2.0 per cent). Netflix and Twitter both lost 3.8 per cent and Tesla Motors shed 3.7 per cent.

Chipmakers also were weak, with Texas Instruments dropping 4.6 per cent and Micron Technology losing 5.0 per cent.

Analysts also pointed to a 1.4 per cent drop in durable goods orders in February. Barclays cited the weak durable goods report in projecting US gross domestic product growth for the first quarter of just 1.2 per cent.