Originally created 09/07/02

Wall Street looks forward and back as Sept. 11 anniversary approaches



NEW YORK -- Wall Street generally looks forward, not back. These days it's doing both as it prepares for Wednesday's anniversary of the airliner hijack attacks.

A year after the attacks destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon, investors are still scared about the possibility of more terrorism. Some worry that new attacks may be attempted on the anniversary.

"There's lots of uncertainty out there, but this is a difficult ballgame," said Michael Murphy, head trader at Wachovia Securities. "We were violated... It raises the fear that it could happen again."

For many in the investment community, Sept. 11 will be a day to focus more on lost lives, on family and friendship, than on the whims of the market.

"What happened on that date takes priority over what short-term gyrations the market may be experiencing," said Richard A. Dickson, technical analyst for Hilliard Lyons in Louisville, Ky.

Trading of stocks will be delayed until late morning on Sept. 11, at the conclusion of a memorial service at the World Trade Center site where the names of the 3,000 victims will be read. At brokerages and financial firms across the country, other, smaller ceremonies will take place.

Murphy, whose office is in Baltimore, will spend the day in New York with his firm's traders at the New York Stock Exchange.

"I have tried to put it behind me. I lost a lot of friends there. Everybody knew somebody there," Murphy said. "People are definitely going to be reflective."

While the threat of future attacks is the biggest uncertainty facing Wall Street, the market has moved on. The lows the market made after the attacks, when the Dow Jones industrials fell to 8,235.81, have been replaced by lows of this past summer when the Dow fell to 7,702.23 on July 23. The Dow is now some 700 points above that.

And there are other worries on investors' minds - whether the economy is getting stronger or slipping back into recession, and whether there will be a war with Iraq.

When the Sept. 11 anniversary passes, analysts say the market will turn its attention back to those concerns, particularly as companies begin issuing their third-quarter profit warnings.

"Once it is over, people will want to move forward," said Murphy of Wachovia Securities.