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Consumer confidence jump in April

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The major indexes jumped to their best levels of the session, but then saw selling into the strength after the Conference Board's consumer confidence index surged to 81 from March's 61.4 reading and well above economist's forecast of 70 as a quick resolution on Iraq helped calm consumer's fears. April's jump in consumer confidence was the largest one-month gain since the Gulf war concluded in March 1991.

The Dow Industrials (INDU) 8,443 -0.32% is currently off 25 points after jumping to as high as 8,559 just after this morning's consumer confidence reading. At the time of the report, Dow breadth was positive at 27 to 3, with current breadth now negative with 12 advancers and 18 decliners. Shares of General Motors (NYSE:GM) $35.90 -1.56% were the hardest hit by selling after the confidence report, while Altria Group (NYSE:MO) $30.55 -1.92% extends earlier losses.

Sector action which had been broadly positive has turned more negative. Sector weakness is found in the Gold/Silver Index (XAU.X) 64.31 -1.83%, Morgan Stanley Health Providers (RXH.X) 253 -1.76%, Natural Gas Index (XNG.X) 177 -1.2% and CBOE Oil Index (OIX.X).

Sector strength still holds, but off their best levels of the session with the Networking Index (NWX.X) 159 +1.2% and Semiconductor Index (SOX.X) 336 +1.2% the only sectors now holding gains of 1% or more.

The tech-heavy NASDAQ-100 Index (NDX.X) 1,108 +0.08% holds a fractional 1.47-point gain as its Tracking Stock (AMEX:QQQ) $27.60 +0.5% holds a 15-cent gain after coming within 2-cents of our WEEKLY R2 level of resistance at $28.08 with a session high of $28.06. Meanwhile the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) 913.48 -0.14% now trades with a 1-point deficit after a morning high of 924.

Most actives have technology bellwethers grouped at the top of the list with Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) $14.97 -0.01% off fractionally and turning just over 34 million shares, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) $25.83 +0.34% holding an 8-cent gain with 30 million shares traded, while Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) $18.83 +0.42% trades off its highs of $19.27 and shows an 8-cent gain on 29 million shares traded.

Jeff Bailey

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