- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Investors tried to shake off doubts about a decline in consumer confidence yesterday, but lingering misgivings put an end to a two-day rally as stocks lost ground in largely indecisive trading.
The backslide continued a pattern of stops and starts that largely robbed the markets of momentum in recent weeks, but some signs indicated investors were preparing to move ahead, analysts said.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 30.45, or 0.3 percent, at 10,115.26, after climbing 311.03 in the previous two sessions.
The broader market also declined. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 3.02 or 0.2 percent, to 1,766.86. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was essentially unchanged, off 0.05 to 1,109.38.
Analysts said that after two days of gains, the market had been poised for more uncertainty regardless of the news on consumer confidence.
"We've been now for 6 weeks in a range-bound correction," said Alfred E. Goldman, chief market strategist at A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. in St. Louis. "The problem today is we were subject to some profit-taking, and that was going to happen good news, bad news or no news."
The news yesterday was in an announcement by the Conference Board that its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 94.1 this month from a revised 97.8 in January. Analysts had expected a reading of 97.
The decline, reversing two consecutive monthly gains, reflected increasing pessimism about the job outlook and the economy.
Analysts said the drop-off in stock prices grew out of concerns that consumer spending might be eroding.

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