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Stocks Slip at Opening Bell

December 18, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stock prices started lower on Wall Street on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 50 points. Decliners outnumber advancers by nearly 3-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Nasdaq composite index was down 15 points, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 5.

Market analysts say the threat of war with Iraq is souring investor sentiment.

Top advisers to President Bush are said to be ready to declare that Iraq is in violation of a U.N. resolution on disarmament, though administration officials say they don’t consider it to be an immediate cause for war.

The market is showing little reaction to a report that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed in October.

On the corporate side, Wall Street has a huge bankruptcy hanging over it today. Insurance and finance giant Conseco has sought Chapter 11 protection from its creditors.

Chip maker Micron Technology posted a larger-than-expected loss, despite rising revenues.

And Blockbuster is lowering its earnings estimates for this year.

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