A Grim Oracle for Tech Stocks

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NEW YORK: With the year nearly out, there's still one more thing that can sink the markets: corporate earnings reports. The first victim? Oracle. Citing the Asian market slump and poor telecoms sales, the software maker reported sharply disappointing second quarter earnings Tuesday and promptly lost a third of its value in frenzied trading. Play on Oracle accounted for a quarter of the total volume of NASDAQ action and the rest was a tech sell-off, erasing all of the index's Monday gains.

So Asian flu seems to have a few sneezes left. "For a while, the fall sell-offs looked to have done their job," says TIME's Wall Street columnist Daniel Kadlec. "They let the air out of the stocks that needed it. Since then, everything is back up where it was, yet the Asia problems are still there."

Look for winter and spring to be seasons of discontent. Kadlec calls the Oracle loss "definitely a forerunner." A lot of U.S. technology companies lost business in Asia. They just haven't told us yet.