- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 12, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) Worries about war and terrorism upset Wall Street yesterday, sending stocks lower after the release of a tape reported to be of Osama bin Laden expressing solidarity with Iraq.
Investors also sold stocks after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Iraq represents the biggest uncertainty for the economy. Analysts said long-term gains for the market are doubtful until there is resolution in the Middle East.
"The big picture is a big trading range until the uncertainties are out of the way," said Matt Brown, head of equity management at Wilmington Trust. "I don't see a catalyst getting the market going up quickly other than the elimination of the threat of war."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 77, or 1 percent, to close at 7,843.11, after gaining 55 points Monday to snap a four-day losing streak. Earlier in the day, blue-chip stocks rose as much as 65 points.
The broader market also finished lower. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 1.22, or 0.1 percent, to 1,295.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 6.77, or 0.8 percent, to 829.20.
Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite station, broadcast an audiotape yesterday, reported to be from bin Laden, calling on Iraqis to stand firm in the face of a U.S. attack.
Earlier, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told a Senate panel that the statement shows why the world must be concerned about Iraqi ties to terrorism.
Meanwhile, Mr. Greenspan told a separate Senate committee that uncertainties about a war present the biggest barrier to the economy. He noted that businesses are reluctant to commit to capital investment.
But if the uncertainty diminishes in the near term, the "more probable expectation" is that businesses will boost spending and help the economy, Mr. Greenspan added as part of his semiannual economic report to Congress.
Analysts say investors have been hesitant to make major stock purchases until there is a resolution with Iraq. But they add that the market could see gains on bargain-hunting after four weeks of losses.

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