Dow Stumbles; Cable Mixed

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A late session sell-off pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average into negative territory Wednesday, erasing a more than 200-point gain in the final 15 minutes as the stock market endured yet another highly volatile day.

The Dow, coming off a nearly 900-point gain on Tuesday, finished down 74 points to close at 8,990.96. The index rose late on news that the Federal Reserve would cut interest rates by one-half of a percentage point, but swung the other way as skittish investors headed for the exits. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the index reached both its intraday high and intraday low in the last 15 minutes of trading.

Cable stocks were mixed for the most part, with Comcast’s modest third quarter results putting a drag on the sector.

Comcast, which had enjoyed a 24.5% ($3.34 per share) gain on Tuesday, dipped 9.9% ($1.68 each) on Wednesday to $15.28 per share. The rest of the sector was mixed, with Time Warner Cable down 84 cents each (4.4%) to $18.28 per share and Charter Communications unchanged at 40 cents per share. Two stocks reported an increase—Cablevision Systems closed up 1.9% (30 cents each) to $15.74 per share and Mediacom Communications rose 10.7% (37 cents each) to $3.82.

Comcast reported strong revenue and cash flow growth in the period—10% for both—but investors appeared to focus more on basic customer losses—at 147,000—well above analysts’ estimate. The country’s largest MSO also reported digital, high-speed data and telephony customer growth that was at or above expectations.

Satellite TV shares also had a mixed day—Dish Network was down 56 cents each 3.4%) to $15.82 per share and DirecTV dipped 11 cents (0.5%) to $20.67 per share.

On the programming side, News Corp. fell 16 cents (1.7%) to close at $9.10 each and Viacom rose 82 cents each (4.2%) to $20.33 per share. Time Warner Inc. was down 55 cents each (5.5%) to $9.55 per share.

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