Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services

Friday, December 14, 2001

Stocks make another
late-day rally to end up

By Alan Clendenning
Associated Press

NEW YORK >> Attracted to Wall Street by cheaper prices, investors today again set aside nagging pessimism about the economy and indulged in some late-session buying.

The market retraced its moderate losses and turned positive by late afternoon, a move that analysts deemed encouraging especially on a Friday when investors often sell to reduce risk going into the weekend.

"The fact is that (being) down in the morning and up in the afternoon tends to be a bullish indicator," said Scott Bleier, chief investment strategist at Prime Charter Ltd.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished up 44.70, or 0.5 percent, at 9,811.15 after falling as much as 29 earlier, according to preliminary calculations. The Dow's performance mirrored that of Wednesday, when the blue chip index turned positive in the last 30 minutes of trading to eke out a 6-point gain.

The broader market followed the same path as the Dow, another repeat of Wednesday's trading. The Nasdaq composite index rose 6.67, or 0.3 percent, to 1,953.18, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 3.69, or 0.3 percent, to 1,123.07.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners slightly more than 8 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange, with 1,769 rising, 1,361 falling and 204 unchanged. Volume was heavy at 1.5 billion shares, but down slightly from recent levels.

The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, rose 2.63, or 0.6 percent, to 471.30. The NYSE Composite Index rose 1.88 to 571.15. The American Stock Exchange Composite Index rose 6.81 to 819.04.

The price of the U.S. Treasury's 2-year note fell 7/32 to 99 23/32, while its yield rose 12 basis points to 3.149. The price of the 10-year note fell 27/32 to 98 19/32; its yield rose 11 basis points 5.184. The price of the 30-year note fell 1 1/32 to 97 1/32, with its yield rising 7 basis points 5.581.

The market, which had been expecting some pullback following weeks of strong rallies, welcomed the late-day advance.

"Money managers want to buy ... and many missed the run from late September," Bleier said.

Lukewarm economic data likely kept the market from moving up sooner in the session, because investors are anxiously awaiting concrete proof that a recovery is under way.

The Labor Department said its closely watched Consumer Price Index showed no change last month after falling 0.3 percent in October as America's first recession in a decade continued to hold down inflation.

Also, the Federal Reserve said output at the country's factories, mines and utilities was down 0.3 percent last month, the 13th decline in the past 14 months.

But today and Wednesday aside, the market was weaker this past week amid a spate of layoffs from such companies as American Express and Aetna and profit warnings from Ciena, Lucent Technologies, Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The litany of grim news reminded investors that economic weakness will carry over into 2002, pushing back the rebound they're anxiously awaiting.

The Dow has not had a close above 10,000 this past week, after crossing that milestone last week for the first time since before the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Having suffered triple-digit selloffs Monday and yesterday, the Dow ended the week down 2.4 percent.

"We've lost the euphoria we had," said Todd Clark, co-head of trading at WR Hambrecht.

The Nasdaq had a weekly loss of 3.4 percent; the S&P 500, 3.0 percent.

Wall Street's gains today ended up being spread across an array of sectors. McDonald's, which reaffirmed fourth-quarter earnings estimates, rose $1.16 to $26.80. Home Depot climbed $1.81 to $49.81, and Microsoft advanced $1.17 to $67.44.

Among the stocks investors sold were companies that posted disappointing earnings or indicated that business remains difficult.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.8 percent. In Europe, Germany's DAX index fell 1.1 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 dropped 0.3 percent, and France's CAC-40 declined 1.6 percent.

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