Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tobacco Stocks Reel on Liability Concern

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tobacco Stocks Reel on Liability Concern

Article excerpt

Stocks were mixed Wednesday as Philip Morris Cos. tumbled on concern that tobacco companies will have to start paying damages to people who smoked their cigarettes. Computer and software issues gained.

The Dow industrials fell 15.17, with almost 13 points of that attributable to Philip Morris. The No. 1 U.S. tobacco company dropped 4 3/8 to 98 after a competitor said it is negotiating a settlement that would mark the first breach in the industry's defense against smokers' lawsuits.

"The longstanding trend of not settling lawsuits has changed, and investors don't like change," said Arthur Stockton, chief investment officer at Stockton Trust in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Among broad market indexes, the Nasdaq composite rallied 15.59 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.46. Software and computer-related stocks led the gains, with Microsoft soaring 5 1/8 to 100 7/8.

Merrill Lynch & Co., the nation's biggest securities firm, told investors to buy Microsoft shares, citing expectations for strong earnings growth this year and next. …

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