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May 15, 2006    

New York markets mixed as commodities prices drop

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by Elaine Frei

Afternoon trade on Monday saw the New York equities markets mixed as crude oil and commodities prices dropped and investors were still worried about inflation. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.3 percent to 11,342.25, but the Nasdaq Composite had declined 0.9 percent to 2,223.57 and the S&P 500 was 0.5 percent lower to 1,285.29.

With copper down 9 percent and the price of gold back below $700 per troy ounce, miners saw declines on the day. Newmont Mining fell 3.7 percent to $54.22, while aluminium producer Alcan was down to $52.98, a drop of 5.7 percent. Additionally, the price of crude oil was down almost 2 percent, which sent oil company ConocoPhillips down 3.5 percent to $62.92. Oilfield services company BJ Services lost 5.2 percent to $35.55.

Ethanol producer Archer Daniels Midland was also hurt by declining oil prices. ADM shares declined by 3.3 percent to $42.64.

In the retail sector, discounter Target lost 4.5 percent to $49.85, its lowest level in a year. Despite reporting that quarterly earnings were up 12 percent, investors were disappointed by lower gross margins.

Pharmaceuticals companies did better, with the sector as a whole up by 1.1 percent. Abbott Laboratories added 2.4 percent to $42.42, while Merck was up 1.5 percent to $34.79. The sector was helped by an announcement from AstraZeneca that it will purchase Cambridge Antibody Technology, a UK biotechnology company.

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