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3/9/2003

Stocks decline a second week

Times-Call wire services

NEW YORK — Wall Street notched its second weekly decline, despite a day of small gains Friday as investors’ hopes that the uncertainty about Iraq might soon end helped overcome a dismal jobs report.

For the week, however, the Dow fell 1.9 percent, the Nasdaq dropped 2.4 percent and the S&P; 500 lost 1.5 percent.

The Labor Department on Friday reported that the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 5.8 percent in February and companies across the economy slashed 308,000 jobs — the steepest one-month slide since November 2001, in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“The international political uncertainties continue to weigh on both the economy and the markets, making it difficult for decision-makers to make long-term commitments,” said Edgar Peters, chief investment officer at PanAgora Asset Management. “The economy can only wait so long for political issues to be resolved before real deterioration begins.”

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average finished 2.7 percent lower Friday. In Europe, France’s CAC-40 fell 2.3 percent, Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 1.8 percent and Germany’s DAX index declined 0.2 percent.

Tokyo stocks closed at a nearly 20-year low on Friday, as investors apprehensive about a potential war in Iraq sold off a broad range of shares.

The benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average finished the session down 225.03 points, or 2.69 percent, at 8,144.12 points — its lowest level since 8,111.83 points on March 15, 1983.