- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street retreated again yesterday, extending its losses into a fourth session despite better-than-expected earnings from the Home Depot and a brokerage firm upgrade for General Electric Co.

The market fluctuated for much of the day before turning lower in the final hours of trading, although some retailers, semiconductor issues and communications firms saw gains. Given relatively good news, Wall Street’s inability to advance after three days of declines was discouraging, said Richard A. Dickson, senior market strategist at Lowry’s Research Reports in Palm Beach, Fla.

“We’re struggling to make gains, and that could mean that we are looking at perhaps the most significant pullback since the market started to rally back in March. That’s the potential,” Mr. Dickson said. “The market has been growing more vulnerable to bad news, and that becomes more obvious as it’s unable to rally on good news.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 86.67, or 0.9 percent, at 9,624.16, for a four-day loss of 224.67. Terror fears contributed to market losses around the world on Monday.

The broader gauges also closed lower. The Nasdaq Composite Index ended the day down 27.86, or 1.5 percent, at 1,881.75. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 9.48, or 0.9 percent, to end the day at 1,034.15.

Some analysts said the markets were taking a natural pause ahead of the lighter-volume days associated with next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.

Among yesterday’s advancers, GE gained 63 cents to close at $28.44 after Merrill Lynch upgraded the conglomerate to a “buy” from a “neutral,” and set a $33 price target, citing a shift toward higher-growth, higher-return businesses.

GE rose another 17 cents in after-hours trading after it announced plans for an initial public offering of most of its life and mortgage insurance operations. The future public company would be called Genworth Financial Inc.

The Home Depot closed down 52 cents at $34.95, despite beating Wall Street expectations with a 22 percent jump in third-quarter earnings. The nation’s largest home-improvement chain also raised its full-year earnings forecast.

Saks Inc. shed 21 cents to close at $14.79, although it reported earnings well above expectations.

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