Investors appear to have pulled back as the world waits to see the next development in the war on Iraq, especially now that Coalition troops are approaching striking distance of Baghdad. Add to the mix news that the U.S. has now built a northern front to divide Saddam's forces as well as word that Syria has opened its borders for those willing to fight for Saddam and for arms and supplies for its neighbor. It's understandable that no one wants to make any big bets ahead of the weekend.
Currently, the Dow Jones Industrials are holding above the 8100 level. The Nasdaq composite is holding just at weak support between 1365 and 1370. Crude oil contracts for May slipped back under the $28.50 level after trading higher earlier in the session.
Declining volume is seriously outpacing up volume by almost 2-to- 1 yet 52-week highs are beating 52-week lows 108 to 61.
The best performing component in the Dow Jones Industrials is McDonalds (MCD), up 2.34% to $14.87. The worst performing Industrials component is Altria Group (MO), down 4.65% to 31.75.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that an accounting probe into food retailer Ahold (AHO) might be widen to include Sara Lee (SLE) and ConAgra (CAG). All three are down significantly on the day.
It is not surprising that the markets been trading sideways. The Pentagon and the newswires have been reporting that Coalition intelligence believes the word has been given to Iraqi troops to use chemical weapons. Should the Iraqis follow these orders our nation will be holding its breath for fear of the outcome for our troops. Any news clips of American forces falling to these weapons of mass destruction will not bode well for the markets.