Shares in the region's military contractors advanced steadily last week, with Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp. up 10 percent after the White House disclosed mounting dissatisfaction with Iraq's weapons compliance.

Lehman Brothers analyst Joe Campbell said he expects government spending on a possible war in Iraq to lead to strong profit for the defense sector, though not everyone is convinced President Bush will sign off on a major defense budget increase.

Shares of the nation's No. 1 defense contractor closed Friday at $54.62, making Lockheed one of the week's biggest local winners on the stock market. The stock is up 17 percent for the year.

The Washington Post-Bloomberg regional stock index closed at 164.18, down 0.6 points. Shares of Rockville-based HealthExtras Inc. increased 9 percent after the company announced the acquisition of Pharmacy Network National Corp. of Raleigh, N.C., another provider of pharmacy benefit-management services. HealthExtras offers pharmacy, health and disability benefits to 2 million clients, including managed-care organizations, government agencies and consumers. The stock closed at $4.16 Friday, four days after the announcement. Shares of the company are down 27 percent for the year.

It was another rough week for Allegheny Energy Inc. Shares of the Hagerstown, Md.-based energy company plunged 23 percent after it announced a $334.4 million loss for the first nine months of 2002, including a major write-down in the value of its crippled energy-trading business.

The company said the nine-month loss, equal to $2.67 per share, includes the impact of restated earnings from recent accounting errors. Allegheny is trying to secure $2 billion to head off a cash crunch. Without the money, the company said last week, it may have to seek bankruptcy protection. Shares of Allegheny closed at $6.40.

Shares of information technology provider Halifax Corp. fell 13 percent after the company said revenue is likely to decline for the quarter ended Dec. 31. The company blamed a reduction in hardware orders but said profit will not be affected by the decline. The stock closed Friday at $5.59. It is up 80 percent for the year.