Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Local index hits a new low

Enquirer 80 Index worst since it was started

By Amy Higgins
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Greater Cincinnati stocks continued to slump Tuesday - pulling the Enquirer 80 Index of local-interest stocks to its lowest point since the index was started.

Just 25 publicly traded companies with ties to the Tristate had stock prices that gained Tuesday, which also saw the broad market continue to struggle.

"There's a buyers' strike going on, accounting for the low volume in the markets right now," said Jim Russell, director of core equity strategy at Fifth Third Bank downtown. "In fact, given yesterday's dramatic decline, today's lack of a bounce is really not inspiring at all."

The Enquirer 80 fell 1.48, or 0.88 percent, to 166.12 - the index's lowest point since it was compiled in fall 1999.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 44.12, or 0.58 percent, to close at 7524.06, after falling 171 points Monday to its lowest level since Oct. 10.

The broader market also finished lower. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 6.90, or 0.54 percent, to 1271.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 6.75, or 0.84 percent, to 800.73.

Pete Sorrentino, chief investment officer for downtown investment firm Bartlett & Co., said investors are acting like "the recovery isn't here, and it doesn't look like it's coming."

"But it's happening so slowly and so subtly that people don't see it," he said. "Right now, there's no must-have group."

But certain groups are getting hit harder: airlines, makers of some consumers products and some financials, such as banks and insurance companies. And because those areas are more heavily represented in the local economy, the Enquirer 80 is suffering more heavily.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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