- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — Investors left stocks in limbo yesterday, making few moves while they awaited Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s testimony before Congress later this week. The major indexes ended narrowly lower after seesawing through the session, but more stocks gained than declined.

While a merger between NetScreen Technologies and Juniper Networks gave technology stocks some support, uncertainty over Mr. Greenspan’s remarks, expected tomorrow and Thursday, could combine with the upcoming holiday weekend to keep institutional investors from taking large positions this week, said Michael Murphy, head trader at Wachovia Securities in Baltimore.

“I think there will be directionless trading with a lot of volatility until he talks, so that shoots almost the whole week,” Mr. Murphy said. “Until then, it’s more of the same.”

The Dow Jones industrials fell 14, or 0.1 percent, to 10,579.03, after rising 1 percent last week. The Dow moved within a narrow 54-point range yesterday.

Broader stock indicators were also down slightly. The Nasdaq lost 3.44, or 0.2 percent, to 2,060.57, after dipping 0.1 percent last week. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 2.95, or 0.3 percent, at 1,139.81 after last week’s 1 percent gain.

Technical problems delayed the opening of trading at the American Stock Exchange yesterday, but were fixed by early afternoon. The problem was caused by a glitch in the computer and networking system that the Amex jointly owns with the New York Stock Exchange, Amex spokeswoman Mary Chung said.

With the bulk of earnings season over and no major economic news released yesterday, the uneven start to the week was no surprise: Investors lacked guidance for their next moves. Wall Street also had little momentum behind it, given the erratic, and mostly lower, trading of the past few weeks.

Internet security hardware maker Netscreen Technologies Inc. shot up $9.54, or 36 percent, to $35.94, after agreeing to be acquired by Juniper Networks Inc. in a $3.5 billion stock swap. Juniper was off $3.29, or 11 percent, at $26.18.

Credit-card issuer Providian Financial Corp. gained 55 cents to $13.69 as analysts and traders discussed the possibility of a takeover by Barclays, one of Britain’s largest banks.

Electronic commerce company InterActiveCorp. closed $1.09 higher at $33.04 after beating estimates on strong sales for travel sites Hotels.com and Expedia, online personals site Match.com, and Ticketmaster and as well as its Home Shopping Network segment.

Aaipharma Inc. slid $2.43, or 10 percent, to $20.73 after an analyst’s report revealed that the company’s top-selling pain treatment would get generic competition sooner than expected.

Business-services company Moore Wallace Inc. dropped $1.84 to $17.69 after its chief financial officer was suspended with pay after he submitted an outdated document to accountants investigating improprieties at the company.

Advancing issues were ahead of decliners by about 5 to 4 on the NYSE. Consolidated volume was light at 1.68 billion shares traded, compared with 1.89 billion on Friday.

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