- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 1, 2001

NEW YORK Wall Street ended a terrible week with a blip upward yesterday, but the modest advance the outcome of a difficult and choppy session underscored how fragile and fractious the stock market has become.
The gain wasn't enough to bring the Dow Jones Industrial Average back above 10,000, one day after the blue chips fell below that mark for the first time since April 9.
An unexpectedly strong report on factory orders sent stocks surging early in the session, but the good news was quickly overshadowed by investors' longstanding concerns over the lackluster economy and disappointing company profits.
"There is no news here today that would say we're about to reverse this thing on a permanent basis," said Bill Barker, investment strategy consultant at Dain Rauschher in Dallas.
The Dow, up more than 100 points in the early going, closed up 30 at 9,950. For the week, it closed down 473 points, or 4.5 percent.
Broader stock indexes also were higher. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 14 points to 1,805, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up five to 1,134.
Nasdaq slid 111 points for the week, or 5.8 percent, while the S&P; 500 sank 51, or 4.3 percent.
Yesterday's listless performance, before a three-day holiday weekend, followed four straight days of declines that sent the Dow down more than 500 points or nearly 5 percent. On Thursday, the Dow dropped 1.7 percent after a spate of bad economic and corporate news.
The fluctuations during yesterday's trading were "just vacillation," said Jon Brorson, director of equities at Northern Trust in Chicago. "Investors are in an 'I don't want to shoot until I see the whites of their eyes' mode."
Concerned about the market's previous sell-offs, investors have been reluctant to buy because they sense no immediate possibility for a recovery in share prices. They are also waiting in vain for a solid string of news from the government or companies that the economy may be ready for a turnaround.
"We need tangible evidence of a bottom to restore confidence," Mr. Brorson said.
The Commerce Department report yesterday that factory orders rose 0.1 percent gave investors an excuse to snap up bargains, but experts said the uptick was little more than temporary burst of buying.
"It's very hard to be confident and make any bold statements here about economic recovery when the people actually running the companies have no idea how business is going to be a few months from now," said Charles White, president and portfolio manager at Avatar Associates in New York.
Orders to U.S. factories rose slightly in July, led by increases in demand for automobiles and other transportation products, furniture, household appliances and communications equipment, the Commerce Department said.
Among Dow component stocks, Alcoa rose 63 cents to $38.12 and J.P. Morgan was up 16 cents to $39.40. IBM dropped 41 cents to $99.95 and Hewlett-Packard fell 19 cents to $23.21.
Overall, August was a horrible month for investors, with the Dow dropping 560. The index hit its high point Aug. 2, closing at 10,551 but ended the month down 5.3 percent.
Yesterday, advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 4 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange.
NYSE consolidated volume came to 1.13 billion shares, down from 1.37 billion the previous session.
The Russell 2000 index rose 0.50 to 468.56.
Stocks overseas were mixed. Japan's Nikkei stock average lost 2.06 percent. Germany's DAX index was up 0.50 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 rose 0.23, and France's CAC-40 dropped 0.31 percent.


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