NEW YORK >> Better-than-expected April retail sales sent stocks sharply higher today, extending Wall Street's winning streak to two sessions, as investors grew more confident about consumer spending. The Dow Jones industrials surged nearly 190 points, its third triple-digit finish in five trading days.
Strong retail sales
extend stock rally
By Lisa Singhania
Volume was also heavy, suggesting investors were feeling more confident about stocks. But analysts were reluctant to predict the gains would last -- noting recent rallies have faded.
"We're getting a nice follow-through from Monday, and it's good to see tech stocks doing well," said Ralph Acampora, director of technical research, Prudential Securities. "I'd love to say this is the beginning of something big, but that would be premature. This is a good short-term move."
The Dow finished up 188.48, or 1.9 percent, at 10,298.14, adding to a 169-point gain from yesterday. It was also the highest close since April 16, nearly a month ago, when average stood at 10,301.32. Advancing issues led decliners more than 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 1.40 billion shares, compared with 1.09 billion shares yesterday.
Buying in technology stocks helped lift the Nasdaq composite index 66.51, or 4.1 percent, to 1,719.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 22.72, or 2.1 percent, at 1,097.28. Yesterday, the Nasdaq rallied 51, the S&P gained 19. Both indexes last closed higher on April 23. The Russell 2000 index rose 12, or 2.4 percent, to 511.72.
The price of the Treasury's 10-year note fell a half-point today to 96 27/32, its yield rose to 5.29 percent from 5.23 percent late yesterday. The 30-year bonds were down 27/32 point and yielded 5.75 percent, up from 5.69 percent yesterday.
The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 1.2 percent in April, the biggest increase in six months and a stronger showing than many analysts predicted. The data was the latest indication that consumer spending -- which accounts for two-thirds of the economy -- remains vigorous.
Investors were also pleased by better-than-expected quarterly results from two big retailers. Wal-Mart rose $2.35 to $57.39 on first-quarter earnings that rose 19.4 percent from a year ago. Higher-than-expected first-quarter earnings also boosted J.C. Penney up $1.69 to $24.89.
Home improvement retailer Home Depot rose $2.36 to $47.98.
Technology stocks also fared well. Intel surged $1.63 to $30.15 after an analyst at Robertson Stephens upgraded the chipmaker.
But WorldCom fell 20 cents to $1.24 on word it was being removed from the S&P 500.
Pharmaceutical and tobacco stocks, two areas viewed as less risky but less lucrative investments, also struggled as investors shifted money into technology and other sectors. Johnson & Johnson slipped 80 cents to $61.04, while Philip Morris dropped 83 cents to $54.91.
Although the indexes have managed three significant rallies in the past week, skepticism remains. Much of the recent buying has been bargain hunting in response to weeks of selling, including the drop that followed a 305-point gain in the Dow and 122-point advance in the Nasdaq last Wednesday.
That particular rally was sparked by better-than-anticipated profits from Cisco Systems. Investor sentiment remains closely tied to individual company news.
The market's performance raised hopes that conditions were improving, and that the market might have reached and now rebounded from a bottom.
"We're starting to see broader evidence of strength. Last week it was Cisco, Monday we got encouraging news from the chip sector and today it was retail sales," said Todd Clark, head of listed equity trading at Wells Fargo Securities. "If this hold, I think it's important and suggests that we could add to these gains."
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average advanced 0.2 percent. In Europe, Germany's DAX index gained 1.3 percent, Britain's FTSE rose 0.7 percent, and France's CAC-40 increased 1.6 percent.