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Blue chips higher, but tech issues drag in pre-election trading

NEW YORK – Blue chips surged Monday, buoyed by a pre-election spending spree in financial stocks. But technology issues struggled to keep up, weighed down by investors' concerns about Cisco Systems' earnings.

In midday trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average flirted with 11,000, rising 165.33 to 10,983.28.

Broader stock indicators were mixed. The Nasdaq composite index fell 3.65 to 3,447.93, after spending early trading higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 9.26 at 1,4345.25.

Although Tuesday's presidential election is still considered too close to call, the generally conservative, pro-Republican market appeared to be inspired by polls giving a slight edge to GOP nominee George W. Bush.

"This is a Bush market today," said Jack Shaughnessy, chief investment strategist at Advest Inc. "Obviously people are viewing the prospect of his presidency as being very positive for investors. This is also a continuation of last week's positive momentum."

But tech stocks struggled, pulled lower by Cisco Systems, which was expected to report first-quarter earnings late in the day. It fell $1.13 to $55.63.

"They're the bellwether out there, and people have been very concerned about technology earnings," said John Forelli, portfolio manager with Independence Investment Associates. "People will be really focusing on the revenue line and whatever tidbits they can get out of it about future growth."

The Dow's advance was spread across many stocks sectors, but financial issues were particularly strong. Banker J.P. Morgan rose $3.96 to $165.69, along with Citigroup, up $1.25 at $55.38.

Pharmaceuticals, expected to benefit if Bush wins, also rose. Merck was up $2.06 at $89.69; Pfizer advanced $1.63 to $45.13.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by an 11-to-9 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 289.42 million shares, compared with 326.11 million the previous session.

The Russell 2000 index slipped 0.76 to 506.99.

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