Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services

Nasdaq catapults
to 17-month high

By Amy Baldwin
Associated Press

NEW YORK >> The Nasdaq composite index soared to a 17-month high yesterday following a string of upgrades of such tech heavyweights as IBM Corp. and Dell Inc. The buying intensified late in the day and spread across the market, sending the Dow Jones industrials up more than 100 points in the final hour of trading.

Analysts attributed the rally -- which also lifted the Dow and Standard & Poor's 500 to new 14-month closing highs -- to momentum and increasing optimism.

"The technical (investor) types are jumping on board, because the market averages are making new highs," said Larry Wachtel, market analyst at Prudential Securities.

For much of the day, the market moved unsteadily, rising initially but then dipping lower before recovering in the afternoon. Analysts blamed the market's meandering on the fact that stocks have been rallying for nearly six months, trading well above the lows they hit in mid-March.

Shaking off an early loss of 6.15, the Nasdaq jumped 31.03, or 1.7 percent, to 1,841.48, its fifth straight gain. The Nasdaq hasn't seen a higher closing level since April 1, 2002, when it finished at 1,862.62.

The Dow rose 107.45, or 1.1 percent, at 9,523.27, its highest closing level since June 19, 2002, when the blue-chip average stood at 9,561.57.

The S&P 500 advanced 13.98, or 1.4 percent, to 1,021.99. The last time the S&P stood higher at the end of the day was June 18, 2002, when it was at 1,037.14.

Advancing issues outpaced decliners nearly 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume totaled 1.43 billion shares, well above Friday's 952.69 million. U.S. markets were closed yesterday for Labor Day.

The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, rose 10.08, or 2 percent, to 507.50. The NYSE composite index gained 72.11, or 1.3 percent, to 5,732.27. The American Stock Exchange composite index edged up 1.79, or 0.2 percent, to 978.24.

In the bond market, the 10-year note dropped 118 point while its yield rose to 4.60 percent. The two-year note fell 18 point, pushing its yield up to 2.02 percent.

The Dow's biggest winner was IBM, which soared $3.75 to $85.76 after Goldman Sachs upgraded computer hardware stocks. Dell, included in that upgrade, rose 97 cents to $33.59.

Goldman Sachs also raised its rating on software makers, which lifted Microsoft Corp. by 74 cents to $27.26 and PeopleSoft Corp. by 62 cents to $18.67.

Outside technology, shares of Vivendi Universal SA climbed $1.35 to $18.25 and shares of NBC parent General Electric Co. rose 87 cents to $30.44 on news the companies were in exclusive talks over the sale of Vivendi's entertainment assets.

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