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Stocks Lower; Dow Down 15

December 30, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ Blue-chip stocks pulled back today after setting new highs on Tuesday as Wall Street remained mired in a pre-New Year’s slumber.

At 2 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 15.71 at 9,305.27. The Dow gained 94 points on Tuesday, rising for an eighth straight session and moving within easy striking distance of the record 9,374.27 set on Nov. 23.

Broader stock indicators were posting small losses as well. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 4.95 at 1,236.86, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index was down 12.46 at 2,169.31. Both measures closed at record highs on Tuesday.

Declining and advancing issues were about even on the New York Stock Exchange, while Nasdaq decliners had a slim lead over gainers.

NYSE volume came to 382.35 million shares, matching Tuesday’s pace.

The Dow’s winning streak, the longest in two years, has added 530 points to the blue-chip barometer, expanding this year’s surprising gain to 17.9 percent.

While strong money flows from year-end bonuses and retirement plan contributions have fueled a strong finish to 1998, analysts are concerned that company profits may not justify the market’s lofty levels in 1999.

Foreign demand for U.S. exports are expected to remain bleak for some time as the global economy tries to heal from this year’s crises, but the domestic economy continues to show considerable spark.

Notably, the Conference Board research group reported today that its measure of future economic activity rose sharply in November.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average edged lower. Germany’s DAX index fell 0.6 percent, Britain’s FT-SE 100 fell 1.0 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 1.3 percent.

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