Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services

Thursday, August 23, 2001

Stocks fall as jobless
claims hit 9-year high

Associated Press

NEW YORK >> The stock market traded lower today as skittish investors saw little reason to buy in a business environment that shows slim chances of improving anytime soon.

Stocks fell across sectors and the tech sector gave up slight gains made earlier when some investors were searching for bargains.

"It's a hunt-and-peck type market. Bargain hunters are looking for specific issues, and their timetable is extremely short. It is an in-and-out mentality," said Alan Ackerman, executive vice president of Fahne- stock & Co.

The Dow Jones industrial average, which has alternated between winning and losing days all week, finished down 47.75 at 10,229.15. Investors were locking in profits from yesterday's 102-point rally, which was inspired by a 146-point selloff on Tuesday. The Nasdaq declined 17.04 to 1,842.97, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 3.22 to 1,162.09.

Decliners beat advancers 8 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange, with 1,685 down, 1,409 up and 217 unchanged. Volume was 966.26 million shares vs. 1.11 billion yesterday. The NYSE composite index fell 0.88 to 600.89, the American Stock Exchange composite index rose 3.91 to 888.83 and the Russell 2000 index fell 3.76 to 473.42. The Treasury's 10-year note rose 3/32 to 100-30/32; its yield fell 1 basis point to 4.88 percent. The 30-year bond rose 10/32 to 99-15/32; its yield fell 2 basis points to 5.41.

Today's disappointing economic news was a report that jobless claims for the first week in August rose to their highest level in nine years.

The Dow's biggest loser was Merck, which slid $2.71 to $68.51 and was still suffering new research showing its arthritis drug Vioxx may increase the risk of heart attacks.

Fiber-optic networker Ciena, which will enter the S&P 500, replacing American General as it merges with American International Group, rose 36 cents to $17.80.

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