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Stocks End on Mixed Note
By Daniel Bases  Reuters
NEW YORK — Stocks closed mixed on Wednesday after investors cashed in profits from a big rally that was built on blow-out earnings from software giant Microsoft Corp. and upbeat comments about the economy from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

The Dow Jones industrial average was off 19.31 points at 9,335.91 following a gain of nearly 125 points.

In the broader market, declining issues led advances 1,557 to 1,459 on active volume of 899 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

The NASDAQ composite index edged up 7.32 points to 2,415.49, its second record high in a row.

Greenspan was positive but cautious about the economy, telling the House Ways and Means Committee that turmoil abroad and falling exports still posed a risk to the "sparkling" U.S. economy.

"The take on [Greenspan's] comments is that the Fed is on hold, which is probably consensus at this point," said Jeffrey Applegate, chief investment strategist at Lehman Brothers.

"As long as the Fed is at worst on the sidelines, and inflation is not accelerating and earnings are going up, then all things being equal, the stock market ought to go up," he said.

In addition to giving a positive but cautious view of the economy, Greenspan said he continues to oppose investing government money for Social Security in the stock market, dealing a setback to President Clinton's plan to overhaul the retirement system, unveiled in his State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

Warning that government money in private equity funds would create a risk of political interference in corporate decision making, Greenspan said: "We will lower the capital efficiency of this country. We will lower the thrust of productivity growth and standards of living."

Microsoft stock rose 6 7/8 to 162 1/2 after it reported a 75 percent jump in quarterly earnings.

Dick Stein, chief technical analyst for Noble International Investments in Boca Raton, Fla., said the wave of good earnings could fade in coming weeks.

"The ones that come out early are the ones that have something to brag about," he said. "Enjoy what you can of January. It's probably going to be the best month of the first quarter."

Investors also took heart from chip maker Texas Instruments Inc., which jumped 6 5/8 to 99 5/8 after it came in with stronger-than-expected profits.

The results came on the heels of positive earnings this week by other major companies, including the brokerage houses Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., which gained 2 11/16 to 74 and Charles Schwab Corp., up 3 5/8 at 64 3/8.

Philip Morris Cos. Inc., the maker of top-selling Marlboro cigarettes, fell 2 6/16 to 48 7/16.

Tobacco stocks were hit after Clinton announced in his State of the Union address that the Justice Department was preparing to sue Big Tobacco for billions of dollars in damages related to health care spending.

Teradyne Inc. rose 8 13/16 to 62 1/16. The automated test equipment maker said its 1998 earnings beat Wall Street estimates.

Western Digital Corp. fell 4 5/16 to 16 after the maker of hard drives posted a quarterly loss and said it would lay off 5.8 percent of its workforce.

American Bank Note Holographics Inc. plummeted 10 11/16 to 4 7/16. The company was named in a stockholder suit alleging that it made false and misleading statements about its financial condition.

The Standard & Poor's composite index of 500 stocks rose 4.62 points to 1,256.02. The American Stock Exchange index was up 4.76 at 712.37.

The NYSE Composite index of all listed common stocks rose 1.26 to 596.09. The average share was up 9 cents.

The Wilshire Associates Equity Index — the market value of NYSE, American and NASDAQ issues — was 11,564.262, up 36.790, or 0.32 percent.

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