Nasdaq now in bear territory, Dow closing in by Jon Fortt @FortuneMagazine January 23, 2008, 5:19 PM EDT E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons The bears are back. Pulled down by Apple’s (AAPL) disappointing outlook and signs of a slowdown in U.S. spending, the tech-heavy Nasdaq dipped into bear market territory on Wednesday. The Dow isn’t far behind — another 400 point drop and it will be in bear territory, too. A bear market is commonly defined as a drop of more than 20 percent in a 12-month period. The Nasdaq reached its high of 2861.51 exactly 12 weeks ago on October 31. But since then, stocks have been hammered by fears that consumer and business spending will suffer because of woes in the global credit markets. Wednesday the index opened below 2287, official bear country. As of mid-day Wednesday, the Dow is 17.5 percent off its October 11 high of 14,280. Stocks commonly rebound quickly from steep sell-offs, however, so many market watchers see the market action as a buying opportunity rather than as a reason to panic. There is plenty more news coming this week that could move the markets in either direction. Dow component Microsoft (MSFT) reports earnings on Thursday, and cell phone giant Nokia (NOK) reports that day as well.