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STOCK MARKET MAY BE POISED FOR A RETREAT

More and more investors who are climbing aboard the "soft landing" bandwagon helped pushed stocks to record highs this week.

But some market watchers are saying that the so-called soft landing -- when the economy's growth slows to a more sustainable pace -- may not develop the way many believe, which could spell trouble for stocks.

Peter Anderson, chief investment Officer for IDS Advisory Group, for one, does not expect the soft landing to take hold until 1996. "We believe that economic activity is going to stage a brief resurgence in the next few months," Anderson said.

The spurt in economic activity could lead the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates again, or possibly twice more, which may mean a retreat in stock prices, he said.

"I think the odds for a correction of modest dimensions is growing," Anderson said. He estimates stock prices would retreat 5 percent to 7 percent from current levels.

Meanwhile, record-high stock prices and signs the economy is slowing but will not dip into recession are enticing a growing number of investors.

Stocks surged again Friday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average to its third record this week. The 30-share average added 65.02 points for the week to end at 4,138.67.

Richard Cripps, chief market strategist at Legg Mason Wood Walker, said foreign investors who believe the dollar has hit bottom are also supporting the rally.

In addition, end-of-quarter window-dressing has pushed stocks higher as fund managers buy stocks to try to bolster their fund's performances with the quarter's end approaching.

Once the quarter is over, Cripps said, stocks could begin a pullback, he said. "At this point I don't see anything more than 5 percent, or about 200 points (on the Dow industrials)."

Earnings are a key part of the puzzle.

Rick Pucci, director of research for Institutional Investors Estimate System, which tracks earnings estimates by Wall Street analysts, said operating earnings for the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index are expected to rise 18 percent this year.

But Jeffrey Applegate, strategist at CS First Boston, believes earnings growth will slow later in the year and that stocks are already richly valued when current interest rates are taken into account.

"The risk-adjusted case for equities going forward is not compelling," he said.

He also warned that a cut in the capital gains tax expected later in the year could trigger a wave of selling.

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