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News Briefs

Britian Moves to Ban Human Reproductive Cloning

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- LONDON

The British government moved Thursday to ease public fears about new gene technologies by announcing plans to outlaw human reproductive cloning and steps to prevent insurance companies from using genetic tests to limit coverage.

At the same time, genetic tests for diseases such as breast cancer are to be made more readily available through the National Health Service.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn said Britain must harness the benefits of gene technologies for health care and “jettison its downsides.”

“The genetics revolution has already begun. It is not going to go away,” Milburn told a meeting of scientists and doctors in the northern city of Newcastle. “Genetic advances can be a force for good, but that requires active preparation.”

He said current licensing restrictions are insufficient to ensure that human reproductive cloning -- copying human beings -- never occurs in Britain. New laws also may be necessary to prevent the creation of a “genetic underclass” by insurance companies seeking to exclude people with an inherited risk of certain diseases, he added.

“Human cloning should be banned by law, not just by license,” Milburn said.

Recent Rally Has Analysts

Talking Market Recovery

LOS ANGELES TIMES

Technology shares spearheaded another impressive rally on Wall Street Thursday, as the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate cut and some upbeat earnings stoked the belief that a lasting market recovery is under way.

The NASDAQ composite index surged 102.70 points, or 4.9 percent, to 2,182.14, while the Dow Jones industrial average gained 77.88 points, or 0.7 percent, to 10,693.71. Trading volume was again very heavy.

Since bottoming two weeks ago NASDAQ has leaped a startling 33.2 percent. That’s the second-biggest rally since the index began its record slide more than 13 months ago.

Coming on the heels of Wednesday’s 8.1 percent surge, Thursday’s gains bolstered the view that stocks have seen their lows, and that the yearlong bear market has ended.

Indeed, the tech rally drained money from other stock sectors Thursday. Drugs and energy, two areas that had been viewed as safe havens during the market’s travails, fell as investors shifted assets to tech. Overall, winners topped losers by 16 to 14 on the New York Stock Exchange and by 24 to 15 on NASDAQ.

The market still has many obstacles to overcome, and any advance is likely to be jagged in the coming weeks and months, analysts said.