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Markets Leave Investors Guessing

After the Bell

The Post's Jerry Knight on News 4 at 4

     ____ Markets Wednesday ____
Dow Jones Industrial Average
Close: 11,178.11
Change: Down 55.12 (-0.49%)

Nasdaq Composite
Close: 3,893.27
Change: Up 43.76 (+1.14%)

S & P 500

Close: 1,484.41
Change: Up 2.42 (+0.16%)

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By Jerry Knight
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 13, 2000; 4:33 PM

The stock market today continued to confound investors who are looking for a trend.

The Nasdaq Composite index managed to end its slide but as is so often the case, did so at the expense of the Dow Jones industrial average.

Tech stocks showed some strength but the critical personal computer segment was still weak, even though IBM Corp. was the Dow's biggest gainer.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp. were the big losers among the Dow Jones industrials. Intel was hurt by a downgrade in the rating of an influential analyst. HP was tripped by one of its key suppliers, SCI Systems Inc., which issued a warning that its earnings well fall short of estimates. That must mean problems at HP, investors concluded.

Telecommunications equipment makers, whose stocks have sold off sharply the last few days, finally turned around. They were the key to the gains by Nasdaq Composite, The Nasdaq 100 Stock index and the Washington Post Bloomberg regional stock index.

Cisco Systems Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Ciena Corp. scored big gains. Ciena shares were up more than $14, but its Maryland rival, Corvus Corp. whose shares usually move in tandem, gained only a point.

Business software stocks also had a good day, lead by Oracle Corp. and Veritas Software Corp. Manugistics Group Inc., the Washington region's biggest player in that game, gained more than $3.

Human Genome Sciences stock also picked up more than $3 after the Montgomery County biotech company reported promising results with one of the first drugs developed from genetic research.

The drug is called Repifermin and can make skin grow and help heal wounds.

It showed very promising results in treating a condition called venous ulcers, where people, get big, ugly sores on their legs that won't heal.

In the test, scientists sprayed Repifermin on the sores and the skin gradually started growing back.

One of the patients in the test was an elderly woman, who had had one of these sores for 25 years. She had tried everything – even a skin graft.

It was a blind test, where some patients get the actual drug and some get a placebo and the patients aren't told which is which.

The little old lady's sore healed so successfully that she told Washington Post biotech reporter Justin Gillis, "If this is the placebo, they ought to patent the placebo."

That was just what investors wanted to hear.

© 2000 The Washington Post Company

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