- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Investors collected profits on Wall Street yesterday, ever aware of the uncertain economy and questionable accounting and taking no chances after two days of sizable gains.
The stock market's slippage wasn't surprising as buyers had been lured to stocks on Friday and Monday by bargain prices, not a renewed faith in an economic turnaround.
The Dow Jones industrial Average closed down 21.04, or 0.2 percent, at 9,863.74, having climbed 259.34 in the previous two sessions.
The broader market was also lower. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 12.45, or 0.7 percent, to 1,834.21, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index declined 4.44, or 0.4 percent, to 1,107.50.
Yesterday's trading fit into Wall Street's pattern so far this year. Caution has dominated stock trading as companies reported lackluster earnings and offered few positive predictions about the future. The major indexes are in negative territory for 2002, led by the Nasdaq, down 5.9 percent. The S&P; has fallen 3.5 percent; the Dow, off 1.6 percent.
The collapse of Enron, brought on by irregular accounting practices, has made investors more careful.
"Essentially, what we are left with is: What do the earnings numbers look like? And, can we trust the numbers?" said Alan Ackerman, executive vice president of Fahnestock & Co. "And, the jury is still out on whether the economy has hit bottom. It's enough to make one duck the market."

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