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Stocks Close Lower; Dow Off 45.09

May 18, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks fell again today in jittery trading dominated by concerns about Tuesday’s Federal Reserve meeting and the government’s legal assault on Microsoft.

The Dow Jones industrial average briefly slipped just below 9,000 with a 96-point loss before closing down 45.09 at 9,050.91, according to preliminary calculations. It was the third straight losing session for the Dow, which now sits about 160 points below Wednesday’s record-high of 9,211.84.

Broad-market indexes also retreated for the third straight session in advance of Tuesday’s deliberations on inflation and interest rates at the Federal Reserve.

While Fed officials have signaled their readiness to raise interest rates and slow the economy if inflationary pressures intensify, no action is expected for now.

Meanwhile, technology shares sagged as the Justice Department and 20 states filed an expected antitrust suit against Microsoft, charging that the company illegally thwarted competition to extend its monopoly over personal computing software.

Microsoft fell sharply as the second most active Nasdaq issue after Dell Computer, which rallied in advance of its latest profit report, due after Tuesday’s close. Hewlett-Packard fell again as the Dow’s biggest decliner, extending a slide spurred by last week’s discouraging forecast from the computer and printer maker.

Overseas, Tokyo’s Nikkei stock average rose 0.9 percent, Frankfurt’s DAX index fell 0.9 percent and London’s FT-SE 100 fell 1.5 percent.

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