Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services

Microsoft ruling
lifts stocks

By Amy Baldwin
Associated Press

NEW YORK >> Wall Street's momentum extended into a new week today, its optimism from a month of gains boosted by approval of Microsoft's antitrust settlement.

"People are certainly in a buying mood," said Brian Belski, fundamental market strategist for US Bancorp Piper Jaffray.

The market built on four straight weeks of advances that followed better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and hopes that the economy is indeed getting stronger. The stock indexes hadn't had a four-week winning stretch since the period that ended Aug. 23.

"It's a combination of the fact that the market has been rallying and that October was a good month," said Barry Berman, head trader for Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee. "The market is just more optimistic than it had been."

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners slightly more than 4 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was light.

Technology enjoyed the biggest gain today. The Nasdaq composite index closed up 35.84, or 2.6 percent, to 1,396.54.

The market's other gauges were also sharply higher. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 53.96, or 0.6 percent, to 8,571.60, getting most of its boost from Microsoft. The Dow pulled back from an earlier 213-point surge as some profit takers stepped in. On Friday, the Dow climbed 120.61.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 7.39, or 0.8 percent, to 908.35.

The Russell 2000 index rose 3.52, or 0.9 percent, to 386.97.

The price of the Treasury's 10-year note was down 1/8 point today, while its yield rose to 4.04 percent from 4.01 percent Friday. Two-year Treasury notes were down 1/32 point and yielded 1.78 percent, up from 1.77 percent Friday.

Tomorrow's congressional election was on the minds of investors, many of whom are hopeful that the Republican party, which favors corporate and individual tax cuts, would take over leadership of the Senate and keep its control of the House.

But analysts weren't sure that those hopes, already a factor in the recent advance, contributed to today's gains. If anything, the market could pull back if there isn't a GOP sweep or if the party simply maintains control of the House.

Analysts also credited the buying spree in part to investors' hopes that the Federal Reserve would lower interest rates when it meets Wednesday. Anticipation of a rate cut perhaps soothed investors following news today from the Commerce Department that factory orders fell 2.3 percent in September, the second straight monthly decline. However, analysts were expecting worse, a 3 percent drop.

Among Monday's big winners, Microsoft jumped $2.68 to $55.68 on a federal judge's ruling late Friday upholding the company's antitrust settlement with the Justice Department.

The software maker's news was a boon to the overall tech sector. IBM rose $2.10 to $82.50, while Cisco Systems climbed 67 cents to $12.28.

Overseas, France's CAC-40 gained 3.5 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 3.6 percent, and Germany's DAX index soared 5.1 percent. Japan's financial markets were closed for Culture Day, a national holiday.

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