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Selloff pushes Dow below 10,000 mark

Broader markets also dip; investors awaiting earnings

SHARE Selloff pushes Dow below 10,000 mark

NEW YORK — Investors opted for safety again Friday, selling stocks and pushing the Dow Jones industrials below 10,000 as they braced for earnings reports expected to begin in earnest next week.

Wall Street got little comfort from an afternoon speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who said that while the economy is stabilizing, it still faces significant risks. Among the hurdles, Greenspan said, are excessive inventories and slumping demand.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 80.33, or 0.8 percent, at 9,987.53, losing 272.21 points, or 2.7 percent, in the week's five straight losing session. The Dow more than erased its 238-point advance from the previous week when investors bought up stocks on hopes that the economy will soon rebound.

It was the Dow's first close below 10,000 since Dec. 20.

The broader market also recorded losses for both Friday and the week. The Nasdaq composite index on Friday fell 24.78, or 1.2 percent, to 2,022.46. For the week, the Nasdaq lost 36.92, or 1.8 percent.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index on Friday declined 10.95, or nearly 1 percent, to 1,145.60. The S&P ended the week down 26.91, or 2.3 percent.

Still nervous about earnings and the economy, investors have been selling stocks all week. Before making bigger commitments to stocks, they want to see companies return to profitability.

"You have a market that's stuck in no man's land," said Bryan Piskorowski of Prudential Securities. "We are looking for earnings to pick up in the second quarter, but have a few months to work through yet."

Investors also believe there is room for stock prices to come down, considering how far they've risen since the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The Dow is 17.5 percent above its Sept. 21 low of 8,235.81. The Nasdaq is nearly 30 percent above its low; the S&P 500, up almost 19 percent.

"The market is stuck in a 'What now?' mentality. It is in a process of reconciling the vast gains we have seen . . . in the context of an economic recovery. We are looking for an economic recovery," Piskorowski said.

Until earnings growth resumes, other investment professionals say investors are considering how to allocate their assets.

"The average investor doesn't want to get caught in the trap that many were in the late '90s of, 'Let's go with what's hot,' " said Thomas F. Lydon Jr., president of Global Trends Investments in Newport Beach, Calif.

Friday's losses were widespread. IBM slipped $1.83 to $120.31, Wal-Mart fell $1.20 to $55.80 and Boeing stumbled $1.15 to $38.69.

Federal Express sank $2.59 to $50.41 after Salomon Smith Barney lowered its rating on the stock to "neutral" from "outperform."

Among gainers, Ford rose 21 cents to $15.50 after announcing a restructuring plan that includes cutting 35,000 jobs, closing five plants and eliminating production of four car models. Declining issues narrowly outnumbered advancers slightly more than 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated trading volume totaled 1.50 billion shares, below Thursday's 1.62 billion.

The Russell 2000 index, the barometer of smaller company stocks, on Friday fell 5.37, or 1.1 percent, to 489.94. For the week, the Russell lost 9.36, or 1.9 percent.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average finished Friday down 0.9 percent. In Europe, France's CAC-40 closed up 0.9 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 advanced nearly 0.2 percent, and Germany's DAX index declined 0.4 percent.