- The Washington Times - Monday, March 3, 2003

NEW YORK, March 3 (UPI) — Concerns about a possible war against Iraq rattled financial markets, and stock prices on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Market were mixed in early afternoon trading Monday.

The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was up 32.21 points, or 0.41 percent, at 7,923.29. The tech-heavy Nasdaq index was off 1.90 points, or 0.14 percent, at 1,335.62.

The broader New York Stock Exchange composite index was up 29.27 points to 4,745.34, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 2.78 points at 843.93, the American Stock Exchange composite index was down 0.91 point at 829.72, while the Wilshire 5000 Index was up 23.82 points at 7,996.42.

Big Board volume was an estimated 599.15 million shares, while Nasdaq volume was about 656.15 million.

Earlier, the Institute for Supply Management said that while U.S. manufacturing activity expanded for a fourth consecutive month, the rate of expansion slowed in February. The institute reported that its key purchase management index reached 50.5 percent, down from 53.9 percent in January. Its new orders index also fell, to 52.3 percent in February from 59.7 percent.

A reading above 50 indicates that the sector is growing, while one below 50 signals a contraction.

There was a mixed bag of geopolitical news over the weekend. On the one hand, a key al Qaida suspect, Khalid Haikh Mohammed, was arrested in Pakistan — a major step forward for the White House fight against terrorism. On the other hand, Turkey's parliament voted to keep U.S. troops out, which made it more difficult for military operations against Iraq to move forward.

U.S. Treasury prices rose. The 10-year bond was up 3/32 to 101 20/32. Its yield, which moves in the opposite direction of its price, was down to 3.68 percent from 3.69 percent late Friday.

In Europe, stock prices were higher. The London International Stock Exchange's blue-chip FTSE-100 index rose 29.10 points, or 0.80 percent, to 3,684.70. The German DAX index rose 15.37 points, or 0.60 percent, to 2,562.42 and the French CAC-40 index rose 8.18 points, or 0.30 percent, to 2,762.25.

Asian shares also ended broadly higher, with Japan's Nikkei Stock Average gaining 127.36 points, or 1.52 percent, to close at 8,490.40. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 146.11 points, or 1.60 percent, to 9,268.77, while the South Korean composite index gained 14.61 points, or 2.54 percent, to 590.04.

Singapore's Straits Times Index rose 5.35 points, or 0.42 percent, to 1,279.20. In Australia, the All Ordinaries index climbed 13.20 points, or 0.48 percent, to 2,791.60.

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