Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services Friday, October 3, 2003

Stocks edge higher
in choppy session


NEW YORK >> Wall Street ended a mostly indecisive session with modest gains yesterday as investors, still uneasy about stocks' high prices, hesitated to extend the previous session's huge rally.

But analysts said investors, despite their nervousness, are concerned about missing out on the next bull market and so are more inclined to buy stocks than sell.

"It seems to be somewhat tentative," said Peter Cardillo, president and chief strategist of Global Partner Securities Inc., of yesterday's trading. "But nevertheless, I kind of think what we are seeing is people trying to get in the market who held out in the month of September. ... Investors want to be long in the market."

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 18.60, or 0.2 percent, at 9,487.80, having surged 194.14 -- its biggest daily gain since June -- in the previous session.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 3.97, or 0.2 percent, to 1,836.22, following Wednesday's gain of 45.31, its biggest one-day increase in three months.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 2.02, or 0.2 percent, to 1,020.24, having climbed 22.25 in the previous session, its biggest daily gain in six months.

Advancers beat decliners 8 to 5 on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume was light at 1.60 billion shares, below 1.97 billion on Wednesday.

The Russell 2000 index rose 2.88, or 0.6 percent, to 503.20.

The NYSE composite index gained 11.64, or 0.2 percent, to 5,779.96. The American Stock Exchange composite index rose 3.31, or 0.3 percent, to 1,007.02.

The two-year Treasury note fell 332 to 100 832, with its yield rising 5 basis points to 1.49 percent. The 10-year note fell 2032 to 101 3032, with its yield gaining 8 basis points to 4.01 percent.

Yesterday's economic news was disappointing, which also pressured Wall Street and made it hard for stocks to advance.

Orders to U.S. factories fell by 0.8 percent in August, the first decline in four months, the Commerce Department said. Economists expected a smaller decline of 0.5 percent. The weakness was broad-based, with orders falling for both big-ticket items, such as cars, and "nondurable" goods, such as clothes.

The Labor Department reported new claims for jobless benefits moved higher last week as laid-off workers who had delayed filing because of Hurricane Isabel finally made it into state offices to do so.

New applications for unemployment benefits rose by a seasonally adjusted 13,000 to 399,000 for the work week ending Sept. 27, the highest level in two weeks.

Ashland Inc. advanced $1.54 to $35.42 after Bear Stearns raised its rating on the oil services and diversified chemicals company to "peer perform" from "underperform."

Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices rose 52 cents to $11.69 after J.P. Morgan upgraded it to "neutral" from "underweight."

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