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Amgen weighs on NASDAQ-100

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The major indexes continue to hold just above the unchanged level in what has been a rather tightly traded range in the afternoon session.

The more heavily technology weighted NASDAQ-100 Index (NDX.X) 983.89 -0.6% continues to trade heavy as does the NASDAQ-100 Tracking Stock (AMEX:QQQ) $24.45 -0.73% as index heavyweight Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) $48.26 -1.84% took a turn lower in the last 30-minutes after competitor Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) $39.70 +7% gained approval for its arthritis treatment. Amgen (AMGN) manufactures Enbrel, which is a competing drug for the treatment of arthritis.

Despite sudden weakness in Amgen (AMGN), which carries a 3.8% weight in the NASDAQ-100 Index, the NASDAQ-100 Index has held together relatively well today, considering the most heavily weighted stock in the index, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) $51.47 -2.45%, which holds a 12.7% weighting has just lost its session low on what may be some early "tax-related" selling as I have not been able to find any news to explain today's negative trade in the stock.

After a nice move higher at the opening of trading, one of our "key stocks" for traders to be keeping an eye on that has exhibited weakness in recent sessions, has morning bullishness starting to fade in Dow component International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) $77.35 +1.44%. In today's market monitor, we mentioned there appeared to be a rather eager seller early this morning ahead of the consumer confidence numbers at $78.25 and it certainly appeared that a later morning rally back near the $78.25 level found that seller to be aggressive from the sell side once again and the stock has been on a trend lower into today's close.

Treasuries did see a reversal of fortune that found buying turn into a late round of selling as the March 10-year futures contract found selling to finish down 7/32 at 115'015 -0.18%, which had the benchmark bond's YIELD ($TNX.X) edging up to 3.818%. If anything, action from the bond market gives slight "hope" to some type of firming in the equity markets into the close of trading. Some traders cited President Bush's continued remarks that the United States is not currently thinking of a potential military exercise against North Korea's efforts to restart nuclear generation plants, but instead, President Bush urges continued energy sanctions against the country.

It has been another relatively light volume session with the NYSE just now pressing the 888 million share mark, while the NASDAQ trade just under the 1 billion share mark at 960 million shares traded.

Market breadth holds positive at the NYSE and NASDAQ with gainers on the big board getting the upper hand at 2 to 1, while NASDAQ breadth is bullish, but to a lesser extent at 19 to 14.

NYSE new highs versus new lows is impressive with 46 stocks trading new highs compares to just 18 stocks hitting new lows. While NASDAQ is even on this breadth indicator with an evenly match 50 stocks trading new highs versus 50 stocks at new lows.

Jeff Bailey

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