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Mixed look as U.S./U.K submits March 17 deadline

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The major indexes show a mixed trade into this weeks close with the Dow Industrials (INDU) 7,697 +0.3% holding a 23-point gain, S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) 825 +0.41% gaining 3 points, while the tech-heavier NASDAQ-100 Index (NDX.X) 983 -0.10% shows a fractional 1-point decline after the United States and United Kingdom submitted a new resolutions to the U.N. Security Council that sets a firm deadline of March 17 for Iraq to disarm or face military consequences from the U.S. and Britain.

France vowed to veto any resolution that would set a timetable for war and called for heads of state to hold a summit under the aegis of the Security Council, and idea that was dismissed by Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press has now reported two of Osama bin Laden's sons were arrested in Afghanistan in a joint operation involving U.S. forces. U.S. sources continue to dispute disputed the reported arrests. "We have no information to substantiate that report," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer in a Friday briefing.

Separately, ABC News reported bin Laden himself may be traveling in a caravan that has been tracked in Pakistan near the mountainous border with Iran. That region is far from current operations in northwestern Afghanistan where the U.S. reportedly has been acting on information gleaned from recently captured Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

In the disputed Afghanistan operation to capture the sons, seven al-Qaida members were reported killed near the tip of southwestern Afghanistan near Iran, AP reported.

The Airline Index (XAL.X) 29.94 +4.46% continues to lift from earlier gains and remains today's leading sector gainer. The Dow Jones Home Construction Index (DJUSHB) 297 +1.95% is challenging the Biotechnology Index (BTK.X) 319 +2% for today's second-best performing sector on thought that longer-date Treasury YIELDS falling back near their October lows will likely have mortgage rates declining early next week. According to money-rates.com, the national average for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 5.83% (0.32% points), while a 15-year fixed rate is at 5.26% (0.28% points).

Jeff Bailey

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