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BLUE-CHIPS GIVES DOW A BOOST

Blue-chip stocks were holding sharp gains this afternoon, wiping out most of the remaining damage from Friday's sell-off, but the broad market was faltering amid the nagging worries about the global backdrop.

At 3 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 35.79 at 8,602.40, about 750 points below July 17's record of 9,337.97.

The Dow nearly tumbled below 8,300 Friday with a 283-point plunge, but rallied back to finish just 77 points lower that day and then gained 33 on Monday.

Broader indexes also jumped out to big gains today amid heavy buying in the technology and financial sectors, the two industries deemed most vulnerable to the global economic turmoil that has rattled the market for more than a month.

J.P. Morgan was up 3 7/1 6 at 122 1 1/1 6, Travelers Group was up 1 1 3/1 6 at 55 1 1/1 6, and IBM was up 1 9/1 6 at 130 1/8 as the Dow's strongest components. Among leading Nasdaq technology names, Dell Computer was up 3 7/1 6 at 122 9/1 6, and Microsoft was up 2 7/8 at 113 1/4 .

Also at 3 p.m., the Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 5.30 at 1093.44, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index was up 5.67 at 1796.49.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 7-to-5 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 434.75 million shares, exceeding from Monday's modest pace.

Overseas, Tokyo's Nikkei stock average rose 0.6 percent. In afternoon trading, Frankfurt's DAX index was up 2.5 percent and London's FT-SE 100 was up 1.5 percent.

Retail stocks, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., gained for a third day on expectations that robust consumer demand will bolster earnings at the same as the cost to import goods is falling.

Wal-Mart Stores rose 1 1/4 to 68 9/1 6, Sears, Roebuck & Co. gained 1 5/1 6 to 54 1/4 .

Pfizer Inc. rose 2 3/1 6 to 107 9/1 6 on expectations its impotence drug Viagra is set to get marketing approval in the 15-nation European Union subject to agreement about warning labels, which means the drug may be on sale by mid-September.

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