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Buffalo investors took Monday's stock market sell-off with remarkable calm, area stockbrokers said.

But brokers and investment advisers expect plenty of nervous phone calls and hand-wringing in the next several days, as novice investors digest their first taste of Wall Street's dark side.

"It was a difficult and painful day," said Mary Collins Demske, president of Niagara Investment Advisers in Buffalo. "A lot of wealth was lost in the market in the short term."

But most long-term clients of her investment management company sat tight. "It's kind of nice they haven't been calling in droves," she said.

Charles W. McCollum, president of Harold C. Brown & Co., said he had two or three calls on Monday as the Dow Jones average plunged.

"Maybe we've got 'em conditioned," he said. "In '87 we spent two weeks on the phone telling people, 'you've got good companies, there's no reason to sell.' " It was in 1987 that the Dow average last dropped more than 500 points.

Not everyone was in a selling mood on Monday, McCollum said.

"I had one voice mail from a client who said 'buy when you see something good,' " he said.

By contrast, Charles L. "Lee" Abell, portfolio manager at Advest Inc. in Buffalo, was selling stock on Monday to lock in profits before they evaporated.

"I guess there's a certain feeling things were overpriced," he said. One of his clients said that "Everybody knows stocks are going to go down, the only question is when," he said. "This is when."

Abell predicted that the market will drift lower in the coming weeks, as investors sell shares to generate tax losses. "I don't think we'll see the old highs again very quickly," he said.

The reaction of novice mutual fund investors will be a key influence during the next several days, said Williams A. O'Loughlin Jr. senior vice president of Essex Investment Group in Williamsville.

"One-half the people in stock mutual funds have only been there three years or less," he said. "You hear people say their mutual fund 'pays' 20 percent a year."

The stock market may be indicating that economic growth will slow down in 1998, Ms. Collins Demske said. The silver lining: "The Fed won't raise rates now," she said, which was regarded as a near certainty a week ago.

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