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Stocks up following U.S. Steel earnings


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POSTED: Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NEW YORK » Some of Wall Street's earnings anxiety is easing—at least for the time being.

The market had its second straight moderate advance yesterday, rising after companies including United States Steel Corp. and American Express Co. managed to post profits in a difficult recession. Financial stocks that were mostly higher also lent support to the market.

The major indexes briefly stumbled after the Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index in January slipped to its lowest level since the reading's inception in 1967. The report indicated that consumers, who have already cut back drastically, are likely to remain reluctant to spend in the coming months. The index from the private research group slipped to 37.7 in January from a revised 38.6 in December.

But profit reports from U.S. Steel and American Express as well as chip-maker Texas Instruments Inc. and movie rental company Netflix Inc. reassured investors that while the fourth quarter was generally terrible for companies, it wasn't the disaster many had feared—some companies are still able to make money despite the worst recession in decades.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 58.70, or 0.72 percent, to 8,174.73.

Broader stock indicators also advanced. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 9.14, or 1.09 percent, to 845.71, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 15.44, or 1.04 percent, to 1,504.90.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 5.52, or 1.23 percent, to 455.58.

Advancing issues outnumbered losers by 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 1.17 billion shares.

Bond prices were mixed yesterday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.53 percent from 2.65 percent late Monday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, was unchanged at 0.13 percent.

The dollar fell against other major currencies, while gold prices also fell.

Light, sweet crude $4.15 a barrel, or 9 percent, to settle at $41.58 on New York Mercantile Exchange. Weak economic data, including a sharp drop in the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city index of home prices, had oil traders again betting that demand for energy will fall.