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Stocks show mixed gains on light volume

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After a late morning push back above the 8,500 level the Dow Industrials (INDU) 8,506 has edged into modestly negative territory, while the other major indexes have the S&P 500 (SPX.X) 898 +0.25% holding gains after trading the 902 level earlier in the session, which was just above psychological resistance of 900.

The broader NASDAQ Composite (COMPX) 1,377 +1.06% has 4-lettered stocks showing gains with a 15-point gain, while the narrower NASDAQ-100 Index (NDX.X) 1,029 +1.62% is today's percentage gainer for the indexes after this weekend's reshuffling of 15 stocks. Of the 15 stocks added to the NASDAQ-100 Index, American Power Conversion (NASDAQ:APCC) $15.14 +4.41% shows today's biggest gain on 1.7 million shares, after Friday's -5.9% decline on heavy volume of 13.7 million shares.

Shares of Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) $19.50 -2.93% trade lower and weigh on the Utility Index (UTY.X) 257 -0.56% after Moody's downgraded the company's senior secured mortgage bonds to A2 from Aa3 and its senior unsecured bonds to A3 from A1. Moody's said the downgrades are in response to lower than anticipated earnings and cash flow as a result of continued weakness in the wholesale energy markets in the U.S. and abroad.

Sector action is somewhat mixed with the Gold/Silver Index (XAU.X) 77 +2.92% leading today's sector winner list, with the Semiconductor Index (SOX.X) 305 +2.37% and Combined Telecom Index (IXTCX) 112.91 +2.09% mustering gains greater than 2%.

On the downside, less than bullish news regarding current holiday sales from the retailing sector has the S&P Retail Index (RLX.X) 265 -2.14% leading today's sector losers, with Dow Component Wal- Mart (NYSE:WMT) $49.86 -1.83% breaking below the $50 level after saying fewer shopping days hurt comparables and that Sam's Club sales were "likely negative" for the period. Meanwhile, Federated Department Stores (NYSE:FD) $27.98 -3.25%, parent of Macy's and Bloomingdale's trades lower after saying that same- store sales would miss its targets of "flat to down 2.5%" for the November-December period," and that sales did not strengthen as much as expected in the third-week of December. Shares of wholesaling retailer Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ:COST) $27.34 -1.97% has edged up after matching its 52-week low of $27.20 earlier this morning, but most likely trade lower in sympathy with Wal- Mart's comments regarding Sam's Club.

Shares of satellite radio broadcasting company XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR) $3.25 +8.33% are getting a bounce after the company said it was successful in getting a $450 million financing project, which should be able to fund the company until it turns earnings to breakeven levels in 2003. Competitor Sirius Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) $0.54 +0.18% shows a modest gain after matching a recent 52-week low set last week.

Broader market volume is light with the NYSE just now over the 658 million share mark, while NASDAQ volume is light at 752 million shares.

Breadth is relatively even with gainers having a slight edge over decliners at the NYSE by a 16 to 15 margin, while NASDAQ breadth is just the inverse with decliners outnumbering advancers by a 16 to 15 margin.

New highs versus new lows is positive at the big board with 46 stocks having traded a new 52-week high versus 34 stocks hitting new lows. Meanwhile, NASDAQ shows 48 stocks trading a new 52- week high during today's session compared to 46 stocks hitting new lows.

Jeff Bailey

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