- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) Wall Street meandered through a listless session yesterday, closing narrowly mixed while investors awaited the start of fourth-quarter earnings reports.
Investors also were collecting some profits from the market's recent advance, but in general refrained from making any major bets.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a gain of 1.09, or 0.01 percent, to close at 8,785.98, having risen 2.1 percent last week, its second consecutive weekly advance.
But the market's broader gauges were lower. The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index fell 1.68, or 0.1 percent, to 1,446.04, after having soared 4.4 percent last week. The Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 1.31, or 0.1 percent, to 926.26, after having advanced 2.1 percent last week.
The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller-company stocks, slipped 0.26, or 0.1 percent, to 396.18.
Investors were trading cautiously after Wall Street's big New Year's rally, which was fed in part by President Bush's $674 billion tax-cut proposal. The recent buying also was attributed to portfolio managers, who typically begin the year buying stocks to replace shares sold by the end of December.
Analysts said yesterday's lackluster tone wasn't worrisome, given the market's recent gains, made even stronger by the fact that trading volume, anemic throughout December, has been picking up. However, volume was light yesterday as investors waited for earnings announcements.
"There is a positive tilt to the market. The tone is better, and the flow of funds has improved," said Alan Ackerman, executive vice president of Fahnestock & Co. "It has given many the feeling that we could have better weeks ahead."
In general, analysts say investors are growing more optimistic about the market's prospects and for good reason. So far this year, the Dow has gained 5.3 percent, while the Nasdaq has climbed 8.3 percent and the S&P; has risen 5.3 percent.
"I think investors are set to see more of this in the months ahead," said Kevin Caron, market strategist at Ryan, Beck & Co. LLC.
Mr. Caron said his firm expects the S&P;, one of the broadest measures of the market, to end the year at 1,150, a premium of nearly 31 percent over last year.
"That may seem like a lot, but when compared with the lousy, three-year bear market investors have had to endure, it is not that much at all," he said.
Dell Computer declined $1.17 to $25.98 after J.P. Morgan downgraded it to "neutral" from "buy."
Johnson & Johnson fell $1.16 to $56.04 after Thomas Weisel Partners cut its rating on the stock to "attractive" from "buy."
But AOL Time Warner rose 15 cents to $15.03 on news that Chairman Steve Case was stepping down, a move many shareholders believe will lift its sagging stock price.
Microsoft advanced 47 cents to $56.39, ahead of its second-quarter earnings results due Thursday.
Dillard's rose 76 cents to $17.62 after J.P. Morgan raised its recommendation on the department store stock to "neutral" from "underweight."
Declining issues matched advancers on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated trading volume totaled 1.77 billion shares, below Friday's 1.91 billion.
In Europe, France's CAC-40 rose 0.3 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.7 percent and Germany's DAX index gained 0.8 percent.
Japanese financial markets were closed for a national holiday, but will reopen today.

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