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Local stock index has best gain in more than 4 years

| Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2003

November not only produced zero turkeys amid the stocks in Trib 30, it also yielded a flock of high-fliers.

The local stock index jumped by five full points to 136.3, the best Trib 30 performance in more than four years. The index had soared to 189.4 in June 1999, when the great bull market of the 1990s was still running strong.

Fourteen local stocks reached 52-week highs during November, most of them repeat performers. The records were spread across a range of industry sectors, but manufacturing and bank stocks shined in particular.

One of the Trib 30 members -- FedEx -- posted its seventh new high in as many months.

None of the 30 local stocks turned in a 52-week low in November.

The Trib 30 is an equal-weighted index of stocks of public companies located or dominant in western Pennsylvania. An investor who divided $100,000 equally among Trib 30 stocks on Dec. 31, 1997, would own a portfolio worth $136,300 on Nov. 28, the last trading day of the month.

Monthly gainers out-numbered losers by almost 3-to-1, or 22 up stocks to eight down.

One gainer, Mine Safety Appliances, shot up $12.51 last month, to close at $67.13 on Nov. 28. The price was also a new high for the local manufacturer -- the company's fifth new high in five months.

November's mark also was the Trib 30's best performance since the 1990s bull market, the longest run in Wall Street history. The local index's next best had been 132.7 in January 2001.

Most of the Trib 30's bank stocks hit new highs last month, most likely on the backs of encouraging news the economy could be snapping back.

First Commonwealth Financial reached $14.98, its third new high in three months. PNC Financial hit $55.55, which was its second straight high. And Parkvale Financial reached $27.80, its second new high in a row.

FedEx, whose ground delivery business is based in Moon Township, notched a new high of $78.05.

Eight manufacturers in the Trib 30 set new highs, including almost every issue in the metals industry. U.S. Steel hit $24.75, its fourth-straight high mark. Aluminum giant Alcoa reached $33.50, also its fourth-straight. Specialty metals maker Allegheny Technologies hit $8.30, eclipsing its previous high.

Other manufacturers to reach new heights last month included bronze marker maker Matthews International ($29.46) and Mine Safety Appliances ($67.13) -- both hitting their fifth new high in a row.

In addition, food maker H.J. Heinz rose to $36.52; glass and coatings maker PPG Industries hit $58.75; and breathing device maker Respironics reached $45.37.

Rounding out the high-flying crowd, Cable Design Technologies, which makes telecommunications equipment, reached a new high of $10.86. And electric utility DQE hit $17.48.

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