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Selling Again Hits Most Sectors, but Late Rally Cuts Losses

Updated from 1:31 p.m. EDT

Broad-based selling continued to afflict practically every sector of the market as the weakness in airlines and energy shares spread into defense and basic materials issues, but many groups managed to come off their session lows as a late-day rally swept through the market.

Airlines mostly slid following a brief reprieve Tuesday, but many of the stocks closed above their lows of the day. AMR (AMR), the parent of American Airlines and TWA, fell 1% to $19.81, while Delta Air Lines (DAL - Get Report) rose 0.5% to $23.03. UAL (UAL - Get Report), the holding company for United Airlines, dipped 1.8% to $18.65, and Northwest (NWAC) dropped 9.5% to $11.68. Continental, (CAL), which was in positive territory earlier, was back in negative territory, losing 0.7% to $17.59. US Airways (U) also reversed the positive trend, slipping 5.3% to $5.50. Southwest (LUV) was up 1.2% to $13.14.

Technology stocks were shaky, but again rebounded from their lows of the session. Dell (DELL), was off 3.7%, Microsoft (MSFT), down 1.2%, and Oracle (ORCL) slipped 1.1%. Cisco (CSCO) slipped 0.6%, and Sun Microsystems (SUNW) dropped 1.4%. Texas Instruments (TXN) shed 1.8%, and Intel (INTC) lost 5.4%.

Aerospace and defense companies produced mixed results. Raytheon (RTN) finished ahead 3.7% to $32.72. Northrop Grumman (NOC) rose 1.6% to $96.30. Lockheed Martin (LMT) continued to slide, falling 3.3% to $43.14.

Brokerage stocks primarily sold off, but pared their losses by the closing bell. Morgan Stanley (MWD) was unchanged, but Goldman Sachs (GS) rose 0.5% to $67.83. Merrill Lynch (MER) was down 2.1%, while Lehman Brothers (LEH) sank 2.6%. Charles Schwab (SCH) dipped 6.9%.

Bank of America (BAC) was down 0.1%, while Citigroup (C) fell 1.6%, and American Express (AXP) fell 4.5%.

Insurers were also hurting Wednesday with the group facing up to $30 billion in claims from last week's attacks, according to Bloomberg. ACE (ACE) lost 8.2% to $23.87. American International Group (AIG) lost 0.5%, while XL Capital (XL) dropped 4.7% to $65.37.

Energy companies were broadly lower as the price of oil continued to sink. Oil refiner Sunoco (SUN) was off 4.7% to $34.20, while Royal Dutch Petroleum (RD) sank 5.2% to $48.05. Phillips Petroleum (P) slipped 5.1% to $52.84, while Schlumberger (SLB) dipped 7.1% to $44.20. Texaco (TX), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Kerr-McGee (KMG) and Halliburton (HAL) were also lower.

Basic materials stocks, which were mixed earlier, were down across the board in the afternoon. DuPont (DD) and Westvaco (W) were in the red. DuPont fell 0.8% to $35.08, while paper products company Westvaco dropped 3.7% to $25.35. Chemical company Hercules (HPC) fell 3.5% to $8.77. Paper products companies such as Weyerhauser (WY), Williamette Industries (WLL) were lower, but Georgia-Pacific (GP) inched up. Steelmakers Nucor (NUE) and Allegheny Technologies (ATI) lost ground.

Retailers were mixed. Wal-Mart (WMT) rose 0.5%, and Kmart (K) climbed 2.8%. Home Depot (HD) lost 3.8%.

Apparel retailer Gap (GPS) rose 2.4%, while Federated Department Stores (FD) sank 2.6%, to $28. Sears (S) was down 3% to $33.08. Online retailer Amazon.com (AMZN) gained 0.3%, and bookseller Barnes & Noble (BKS) was up 2.2% to $35.60.

In the consumer products arena, Procter & Gamble (PG) rose 0.5%. Philip Morris (MO) slipped 0.6%, and McDonald's (MCD) gained 1.8%. Coca-Cola (KO) tacked on 3 cents to $49.50, and Gillette (G) was down 2.1% to $29.96.

Media stocks, which were trending higher in morning activity, were pushed back, but AOL Time Warner (AOL) was up 1.6% to $30.95, while newspaper publishers Tribune (TRB) and Knight Ridder (KRI) were both down slightly. Gannett Company (GCI) was off a penny to $60.44.

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