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Protection/safety is today's bullish theme

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Two of today's top-5 gainers in a modestly bullish broader market session have protection/safety stocks leading the advancer list.

Earlier this morning, shares of Identix Inc. (NASDAQ:IDNX) $5.53 +14.25 were the day's leading gainer, but have since slipped to the number 5 gainer after the maker of fingerprint and facial recognition technology products said that it had received an order for 450 fingerprint machines from the Department of Defense. The stock has edged back from its session highs of $5.96 after the company told Dow Jones that the company had included the order in its December quarterly guidance provided on December 16th, but today's confirmed order from the Defense Department is confirmation of prior guidance.

Also bullish has Verint Systems (NASDAQ:VRNT) $20.84 +15.8%, which makes analytic solutions for communications interception, digital video security and surveillance intelligence equipment jumping to today's number-3 slot of percentage gainers after some positive comments from Gregor Spear and thoughts that recent saber rattling by the Bush administration poses much higher stakes than the 1991 Gulf War, as the Bush administration looks for an Iraq regime change, which might face a much higher level of resistance than the 1991 Gulf War, which was designed to liberate Kuwait. Spear's thinks that Saddam will most likely entertain defensive and aggressive options that would seem more hostile and increase the need for Verint's (VRNT) products going forward as state and federal law enforcement agencies in multiple locations collaborate on large-scale investigations by sharing information stored on decentralized databases.

Verint Systems (VRNT) - $1 & $0.50 box scale

Of the two stocks making some "waves" today on the percentage gainer, shares of VRNT look strongest on a longer-term basis. Today's trade at $19.00 triggers a "triple-top" buy signal and has the stock breaking to a new 52-week high after its IPO suffered institutional sponsorship back in May after being priced at $16.00, which was the lower end of its $16-$18 indicated offering range. Under recent broader-market conditions, bulls might look for pullback entry points near the $19.00 level, stop $16.00 and target the mid-$30 level. Verint Systems does not currently trade options.

As expected, today's market volume is once again very light with just over 400 million shares traded at both the NYSE and NASDAQ.

Advancers lead decliners by a healthier 7 to 3 margin on the big board, while NASDAQ breadth is positive, but not to the degree found at the NYSE. NASDAQ breadth shows gainers outnumbering advancers by a 17 to 13 margin.

NYSE new highs versus new lows is healthy with 50 stocks achieving a new 52-week high versus just 13 stocks at new 52-week lows. This is a bit of a surprise at the number of days for tax- loss selling is down to just 4-days. NASDAQ may still be seeing some tax-loss selling as 47 stocks trade new highs, versus 30 stocks achieving new 52-week lows.

Jeff Bailey

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