Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services

Wednesday, March 17, 1999

Dow off 51.06

NEW YORK -- Stock prices drifted lower today, halting another attempt by the Dow Jones industrial average to close above 10,000, as interest rates rose in the bond market.

At the close on Wall Street, the Dow was down 51.06 at 9,879.41, or nearly 121 points shy of 10,000. Yesterday, the index briefly passed that milestone for the first time before falling back and closing with a loss.

The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 8.56 to 1,297.82, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index declined 10.30 to 2,428.97.

Decliners beat advancers by a 6-to-5 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, with 1,358 up, 1,599 down and 577 unchanged. NYSE volume was 753.60 million shares vs. 738.8 million yesterday.

The NYSE composite index fell 3.43 to 610.65, and the American Stock Exchange composite index declined 0.48 to 715.83.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 0.74 to 398.43.

The Dow made some headway in the first hour of trading today, rising as high as 9,960.71, or less than 40 points away from 10,000. But bond prices backed off, and stocks followed, sending the Dow lower.

The 30-year Treasury bond was down 3/16 point, pushing its yield up to 5.5 percent from 5.47 percent late yesterday.

The higher bond yields certainly didn't help, but Larry Wachtel, market analyst at Prudential Securities, said the stock market was in a normal cooling-off period after rising aggressively.

From its close at 9,274.88 on March 3 to its intraday high yesterday of 10,001.78, the Dow has surged 725 points, Wachtel pointed out.

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