NEW YORK >> Wall Street's rally gained momentum today, with stocks rising sharply for the second straight day, this time on Hewlett-Packard's better-than-expected results. The Dow Jones industrials rose more than 220 points and closed at their highest level in three months.
By Lisa Singhania
And, the Nasdaq composite index soared nearly 50, and surpassed its post-Sept. 11, 2001 closing low, an achievement last seen four months ago.
Along with H-P's news, investors were also enthused about two new economic reports, one of which suggested the employment slump might be easing. The other showed a flat but still stronger-than-expected reading in the Index of Leading Economic Indicators.
Trading was brisk, with advancing issues leading decliners more than 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was heavy, especially compared with recent light trading.
The Dow closed up 222.14, or 2.6 percent, at 8,845.15. The blue-chip average finished at a level not seen in three months, or since Aug. 26 when it stood at 8,919.01.
Today's advance was the Dow's best one-day point gain in more than a month, or since Oct. 11, when it jumped 316.34.
The biggest gains came in the technology-laden Nasdaq, which surged 48.21, or 3.4 percent, to 1,467.56. Adding to yesterday's 44-point gain, the index was also trading above its post-Sept. 11 low close of 1,423.19. It last closed above that level on July 5.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 19.61, or 2.2 percent, to 933.76. The Russell 2000 index rose 9.10, or 2.3 percent, to 397.69.
The price of the Treasury's 10-year note was down 3/4 point today, while its yield rose to 4.15 percent from 4.06 percent yesterday. Two-year Treasury notes were down 5/32 point and yielded 2.03 percent, up from 1.95 percent yesterday.
H-P rose $2.14, or nearly 12.7 percent, to $18.99 as investors reacted to the company's better-than-expected earnings released yesterday. The technology bellwether also reaffirmed its forecasts for the current quarter.
The gains were helped by encouraging reports from the Labor Department and Conference Board. First, the Labor Department reported new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in four months. Then, the Conference Board reported that its Index of Leading Economic Indicators was unchanged at 111.4 in October, after slipping a revised 0.4 percent the previous month. Analysts had predicted a drop of 0.1 percent for October in the index, used to measure future economic activity.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 2.5 percent. France's CAC-40 advanced 4.3 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 climbed 2.3 percent and Germany's DAX index gained 2.9 percent.