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Stocks fall Wednesday, investors take profits for second day
AP Business WriterNEW YORK (AP) -- Doubtful that the stock market's latest surge can be sustained indefinitely, investors secured profits for the second straight day Wednesday, leaving prices moderately lower.
"It is a bit of recognition that the market may have moved too, too fast," said Alan Ackerman, executive vice president of Fahnestock & Co.
After weeks of swooping up stocks on their increasing belief the economy will turn around in 2002, investors were expected to lock in some gains.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 66.70, or 0.7 percent, at 9,834.68, according to preliminary calculations. Profit taking brought the Dow 75 points lower Tuesday, but the blue chips had climbed 368 points in the previous six sessions.
The Dow is 19.4 percent above its 2001 low of 8,235.81 on Sept. 21, which followed a 1.369-point plunge the first week of trading following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"It's not surprising to see some profit taking under way. The market has literally run a mile," Ackerman said.
The broader market also slipped Wednesday. The Nasdaq composite index pulled back 5.46, or 0.3 percent, to 1,875.05 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 5.63, or 0.5 percent, to 1,137.03.
The broader indicators have also risen substantially from the lows they incurred after the attacks. The Nasdaq is up 31.7 percent; the S&P 500, up 17.7 percent.
"Frankly, the market from Sept. 21 to today has gone from an extremely oversold condition to an extremely overbought condition," said Larry Wachtel, market analyst with Prudential Securities.
Volume was lighter than normal as many traders took the day off ahead of Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday.
A positive report on consumers' mood failed to motivate investors to buy. The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index rose to 83.9 percent in November, up from 82.7 percent in October, according to what index subscribers told Dow Jones News Service.
Stocks fell across most sectors and industries, in keeping with how widespread the market's run-up has been. Among Wall Street's losers were companies whose outlooks or performance disappointed investors.
In technology, Dow industrial Microsoft fell $1.37 to $64.03 after Salomon Smith Barney downgraded its rating on the software maker. Triquint Semiconductor tumbled nearly 12 percent, down $2.33 at $17.22, having said its fourth-quarter results will be at the low end of previous estimates.
Debt-ridden Enron slid 28 percent, down $1.98 at $5.01, amid worries about the company's ability to handle its spiraling financial problems. Rival Dynegy fell $1.94 to $39.76 on concerns over its $10.5 billion merger with Enron, slated to be completed by next summer.
Department store retailer Dillard's fell 50 cents to $15.05 after posting a third-quarter loss that was 6 cents a share wider than Wall Street expected.
Meanwhile, investors rewarded companies that offered positive prospects for their future. Amgen rose $4.07 to $61.98 after the biotech company said Tuesday earnings per share will grow in the 20 percent range next year.
Xerox gained 67 cents to $7.67 after Deutsche Banc Alex Brown raised its rating on the stock.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 1.01 billion shares, down from the 1.31 billion shares traded
The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, fell 1.59, or 0.4 percent, to 452.31.
Overseas, markets were mixed Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei stock average finished up 0.8 percent. In Europe, Britain's FT-SE 100 rose 0.3 percent, while France's CAC-40 fell 0.8 percent and Germany's DAX index declined 0.2 percent.
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