- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) But afternoon bargain hunters provided some reprieve, pulling the broader market out of negative territory and allowing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to trim an earlier loss of more than 200 points.
For much of the session, the Dow was poised for its fourth triple-digit loss in as many days. Instead, it ended with an 11-point deficit, its smallest loss in two weeks.
"It is a bear market. There is not much more you can say. The attitude on Main Street and Wall Street has changed from buying on the [markets] dips to selling on the rallies," said Richard A. Dickson, a technical analyst at Hilliard Lyons in Louisville, Ky.
There was little in the way of good economic news to spur investors, although retail chains, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Kohl's Corp. and Target Corp., beat Wall Street estimates as store owners reported their June results.
But the Labor Department reported that first-time claims for unemployment insurance rose last week by a larger-than-anticipated 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 403,000, the highest level since May 25. It marked the first rise in three weeks.
Meanwhile, wholesale prices inched up 0.1 percent in June, the first increase in three months, boosted by higher costs for gasoline, cars and trucks. Even with June's small gain, the Labor Department report indicated that inflation remains under control.
On Wall Street, the Dow snapped back from an earlier 208-point loss to close down 11.97, or 0.1 percent, at 8,801.53. The Dow plunged 566 points over the previous three sessions, and on Wednesday closed below 9,000 for the first time since October.
But the broader market was higher yesterday. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 28.42, or 2.1 percent, to 1,374.43, having closed Wednesday at a low not seen since May 1997. The gain enabled the Nasdaq to recoup nearly a fourth of its 102-point loss from the three previous sessions.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 6.90, or 0.8 percent, to 927.37, having dropped Wednesday to a closing low not seen since November 1997.
The market's comeback was attributable to investors willing to place some bets on stocks with lower prices, and also to program trading, in which computers generate "buy" orders when stocks fall to a specified level.
There was no fundamental change in market sentiment to drive the buying. And, the market's three major indexes were still headed for their eighth straight losing week.
Bristol-Myers fell $1.04 to $22.11 on news that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether the drug company inflated revenue last year by $1 billion.
General Motors traded sharply lower for much of yesterday after UBS Warburg cut its rating on the stock to "hold" from "buy," a day after Banc of America also downgraded the automaker. GM ended yesterday up 11 cents at $47.72.
Bigger gainers included Kodak, which climbed $2.94 to $29.58 after raising its second-quarter estimates. Wal-Mart rose 42 cents to $54.18 after raising its second-quarter earnings estimate due to stronger-than-expected sales in June.
Yahoo rose 73 cents to $12.92, having reported Wednesday its first quarterly profit since 2000 and raising its yearly earnings expectations.
Still, investors are expected to keep selling until they see a definite improvement in earnings and until they regain trust in corporate accounting.
"What the stock market needs more than anything is time and no more scandals," said Brian Belski, fundamental market strategist at US Bancorp Piper Jaffray.
Analysts say prices also need to drop to the point where investors can shrug off the market's accounting woes and buy stocks.
"We have to get to the point where we say that the values are too good to ignore, and then this crisis in confidence goes away. We're not there yet," he said.

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