Wall Street has few clues on stock market's next leader

Monday, September 30, 2002

NEW YORK -- One great mystery on Wall Street has been which stock sector is going to lead the rest of the market into recovery. It's not going to be solved anytime soon.

Investors, having gotten past the Sept. 11 anniversary of the terror attacks, must now factor the possibility of war with Iraq into their search for leadership.

"We are just mired in a situation where the economy is not giving you the high sign. We are post-Sept. 11, but staring possible war in the Middle East in the face," said Brian Bush, director of equity research for Stephens Inc. "That is a difficult environment for the market to go forward in."

There may not be any clear-cut leaders on Wall Street for a while.

"In terms of market leadership, I don't think we are going to have any. It is going to be very fragmented," said Scott Bleier, president of Hybridinvestors.com.

Of the 10 sectors tracked by Standard & Poor's, consumer staple issues -- makers of such necessities as toothpaste and deodorant -- are the lone leaders, up 1 percent so far this year.

No surprise who the biggest losers are -- telecommunications, down 45.2 percent.

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