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Showbiz stox slide on downer Dow day

Consumer, tech, media shares drop, DJIA fell 160 points

Showbiz stocks headed lower with the rest of a volatile market as the latest consumer confidence report released Tuesday fell short of expectations for the second month in a row.

Stocks fell across the board, including consumer, technology and media. Viacom dipped 3.1% to $45.25 and News Corp. was down 2.7% to $34.40

Walt Disney eased 2.4% to close at $25.76, and AOL Time Warner lost 2.3% to $40.70.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 160 points, or 1.45% to 10,222 after the August consumer confidence index declined unexpectedly. Until recently, consumer optimism has been a pillar of strength in the current shaky economy. Market watchers, vigilant for any signs of recession, also feared that indicators due out today — namely revised gross domestic product for the second quarter — could come in flat or even negative.

AT&T managed to shrug off the negative mood, rising 0.73% to $19.20, possibly as investors perceive the telecom giant may have more than one suitor for its cable division. Comcast bid for the unit earlier this summer. AT&T is talking with others, including Cox and Walt Disney.

But shares of AT&T’s high-speed Internet service, Excite@Home languished at 39¢ as the company risks being delisted from the Nasdaq and, analysts said, flirts with a bankruptcy filing. One of the company’s disgruntled investors, Promethean Asset Management, has demanded $50 million by this Friday.

The firm arranged a private bond placement for Excite@Home in June but now claims the company didn’t accurately portray its financial condition at the time. Excite@Home says the claim is without merit.

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