- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 29, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) Investors' nagging uncertainty about the economy prompted them to collect more profits yesterday, sending stocks down sharply and the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling for the second straight day.
Analysts said some selling was expected as investors aren't completely convinced the economy will improve in the first half of 2002. For weeks, hopes that business will improve early next year have been boosting the market.
"We're making a bottom, but we're not out of the woods yet," said Richard Jandrain, senior managing director at Banc One Investment Advisors Corp.
The Dow closed down 160.74, or 1.6 percent, at 9,711.86, having dropped 110 points Tuesday amid profit-taking and disappointment about a weaker-than-expected consumer-confidence reading.
The broader market also suffered. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 48, or 2.5 percent, to 1,887.97, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index declined 20.98, or 1.8 percent, to 1,128.52.
Analysts had expected investors to lock in profits, given how strongly the market has rallied since late September. As of Monday, the Dow had risen 21 percent since closing at a low of 8,235.81 on Sept. 21. After two consecutive triple-digit losses, the blue chips still are about 18 percent above that low.
The market's softness was spread across most sectors, but one of the weakest spots was utilities, which dropped after Dynegy backed out of its planned merger with Enron. Debt-ridden Enron plunged 73 percent, down $3 to $1.11, while Dynegy fell $4.08 to $36.81.
The Dow Jones utilities average fell 2.9 percent, down 8.48 at 279.95.
Retailing issues were vulnerable to concerns that this holiday shopping season will be the worst in a decade.
Gap stumbled 79 cents to $13.61 after Prudential Securities reduced its rating on the clothier to "sell" from "hold" and called its holiday merchandise poor. Electronics retailer Best Buy fell $1.18 to $69.90, while Bed, Bath & Beyond declined 74 cents to $32.34.
Technology also was weaker as investors fear there is too much inventory and not enough demand.


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