- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 1, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) Investors bid stocks mostly higher yesterday, overcoming their disappointment over two weak economic readings and focusing once more on hopes for 2002. Technology dipped on minor profit taking.
Prices fell more broadly earlier in the session, in part because of a revised reading on the nation's gross domestic product the sum of U.S. goods and services in the third quarter. The Commerce Department reported that the economy contracted at a rate of 1.1 percent, steeper than the 0.4 percent decline reported last month and larger than the 0.9 percent decrease analysts expected.
Investors were also initially unsettled by a drop in the Purchasing Management Association of Chicago index of area business activity, which fell to 41.1 in November from 46.2 in October.
"We're able to shrug it off. I think the trend of economic data have been positive, and so individual pieces aren't toppling over the apple cart," said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst for Jefferies & Co. "The momentum seems to be to buy stocks."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 22.14, or 0.2 percent, at 9,851.56. The Dow is 19.6 percent above its low of 8,235.81, where it closed Sept. 21 following the terror attacks.
But the broader market ended yesterday slightly lower. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 2.70, or 0.1 percent to 1,930.56, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 0.74, or 0.06 percent, at 1,139.46.
Throughout the past week, investors have been wavering between optimism about the future and concerns about the current economy. Their indecision was apparent in Tuesday's session, when the Dow dropped 110 points on a weaker-than-expected reading on consumer confidence, and in Thursday's trading, when the blue chips rose 117 after the Commerce Department reported durable goods orders soared a record 12.8 percent in October.
Given how strongly the market has rallied since late September, analysts said there is plenty of room for investors to take profits from Wall Street. The Nasdaq is 35.7 percent above its post-attack low; the S&P; 500, up 18 percent.
Analysts also said the market will have a tough time climbing above current levels, at least until there are signs that business is improving.
"The market has been rip-roaring ahead. It may be a while before we resume the uptrend on a definitive basis," said Ronald J. Hill, investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
Upbeat prospects for the future boosted some stocks. Home Depot climbed $2.63 to $46.65 after the retailer affirmed its fourth-quarter and yearly earnings estimates, said revenue will increase at least 15 percent annually over the next two years, and said it is still on track to top $100 billion in yearly revenue by 2005. Home Depot was the strongest Dow industrial.

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