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Stocks nearing their lows of session

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As we approach the final 45-minutes of today's session, the major indexes are nearing their lows of the session on average volume.

The Semiconductor Index (SOX.X) 264.30 -6.37%, which was this morning's early sector loser has extended those losses here, with Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) $15.05 -2.58% looking to test this afternoon's lows of $14.96, but well off its morning gap lower of $14.74.

The Dow Jones US Home Construction Index (DJUSHB) 315 -4.56% holds the number two loser list as homebuilders find weakness on fears that the recent selling in Treasuries, which now has the longer-dated 10-year and 30-year YIELDS off their 40-year lows, will have mortgage rates rising and perhaps squashing further strength in the sector. According to Realtor.com, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 6.3%, which is about 1.14 points above today's closing YIELD on the 30-year Treasury Bond ($TYX.X).

It's been a reversal of fortune for shares of electric utility Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) $19.60 -2.3% today after the stock traded as high as $21.10 and looked to be making headway out of its recent decline. Earlier this afternoon, Dow Jones reported that Duke had $124 million in "inappropriate" accounting. According to the firm's auditor, Duke intended to underreport regulated profits. The stock dropped sharply to the $18.50 level, but has since recovered back near the $20 level, but it is unclear as to what types of potential penalties/fines if any the company may face.

The Treasury bond market closed, with the 5, 10 and 30-year December price futures fractionally lower. The benchmark 10-year Treasury futures (ty02z) 112'015 -0.08% finished off -'030.

The Gold/Silver Index (XAU.X) 63.04 +5.25% and build gains from the 01:00 EST hour and has taken over today's sector winner. Airlines as depicted by the Airline Index (XAL.X) 37.08 +3.25% are fading from their highs on trader talk that any disruption due to war with Iraq, could have fuel prices rising and putting further pressure on the beleaguered and already debt-laden sector.

Market breadth has weakened since the 01:00 update with NYSE breadth now more negative at 22 to 9, while NASDAQ breadth is bearish at 19 to 12.

A few more new lows are beginning to show up as the NYSE has 17 stocks hitting new highs versus 88 stocks trading new lows, while NASDAQ also widens a bit with 31 stocks having traded new highs versus 66 at new lows.

Volume is about average with NYSE just over 1.3 billion traded and catching up to NASDAQ's 1.45 billion shares.

Jeff Bailey

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