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Light volume at lows of the session

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The major indexes are nearing their morning lows in a relatively light volume session with the NYSE Composite (NYA.X) 5,643 -1% down 62 points with just over 1.09 billion shares trade. Despite the daily weakness, the number of 52-week highs has been slowly building positive the past three hours from 138 to 155, while new 52-week lows on the big board have been holding steady at 5.

The broad NASDAQ Composite (COMPX) 1,661.88 -0.90 is seeing similar trade lower, currently down 15 points, with a slow build in new 52-week highs to 157, while in impressive showing from the bottom finds just 2 stocks having hit new 52-week lows.

Advance/decline ratios on both the major exchanges look identical with 19 stocks declining for every 12 stocks advancing.

The Semiconductor Index (SOX.X) 380 +0.12% is today's tech winner with NASDAQ-100 Index (NDX.X) 1,235 -1% component Microchip Technologies (NASDAQ:MCHP) $23.69 +5.19% gaining after reaffirming Q1 revenues of $157-$164 million last Tuesday. Sector bellwether Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) $21.39 -1.65% is lower and is today's second-most actively traded stock at just over 55.6 million shares.

Financials continue their move lower in today's session with the Securities Broker/Dealer Index (XBD.X) 527 -3.41% pacing the declines. The S&P Insurance Index (IUX.X) 268 -2.26%, KBW Bank Index (BKX.X) 871 -1.92% and S&P Banks Index (BIX.X) 306.85 -1.57% find both the S&P 500 (SPX.X) 995 -1.45% and S&P 100 Index (OEX.X) 501.84 -1.53% sinking to their lows of the session.

The bond market closed and today's action really saw the YIELD curve steepening with the 5-year YIELD ($FVX.X) falling 6.1 basis points to 2.242%, while the longest-dated 30-year YIELD ($TYX.X) rose 2.8 basis points to 4.417%. In the belly of the curve, the benchmark 10-year YIELD ($TNX.X) edged down 1.9 basis points to 3.341%.

The Biotechnology Index (BTK.X) 442.63 -4.79% continues its slide from yesterday and breaks below its shorter-term 21-day SMA of 458.50 for the first time since breaking above this shorter-term moving average and longer-term 200-day SMA of 340 on April 22nd. Sector bellwether Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) $63.70 -3.27% has just slipped below its 21-day SMA despite this afternoons announcement that it and Wyeth announced positive results for Enbrel. The companies said patients in a second Phase III clinical study assessing the efficacy and tolerability of Enbrel in the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis experienced significant and rapid improvement in their symptoms.

The Dow Industrials (INDU) 9,165 -1.37% is picking up some downside momentum and down 128 points with breadth negative at 29 to 30. Shares of General Electric (NYSE:GE) $29.74 -3.22% lead component declines after broker Merrill Lynch ruded their full year 2003 earnings estimates to $1.59 from $1.61 (consensus $1.61) due to lackluster short-cycle order trends. Merrill said it believes tomorrow's Analyst Meeting could be used as an opportunity for the company to narrow full-year guidance to the lower end of previous $1.55-$1.70 EPS guidance range.

Jeff Bailey

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