- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2008

U.S. stocks rose yesterday, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to its second straight monthly advance, after better-than-forecast earnings at Dell Inc. and a rebound in oil prices led technology and energy shares higher.

Dell, the second-largest maker of personal computers, rallied the most since November 2006. ConocoPhillips and Schlumberger Ltd. climbed as crude prices rose following their biggest drop since March.

The S&P; 500 added 2.12 to 1,400.38, bringing its monthly gain to 1.1 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 7.90 to 12,638.32. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 14.34 to 2,522.66.

“The stock market is holding in there,” said Jack Ablin, who oversees $62 billion as chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago. “For the most part, technology has done remarkably well. Dell is a troubled company that investors had left for dead. The fact that they’re still breathing means there’s renewed optimism.”

The S&P; 500’s May advance extended the 4.8 percent gain in April that followed five straight months of declines. Although the Dow average retreated 1.4 percent in May, the Nasdaq rose 4.6 percent during the month.

Dell shares soared 5.7 percent to $23.06. Earnings and sales beat projections, signaling that Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell’s turnaround strategy is making progress.

Broadcom Corp., the maker of chips for Nintendo Co.’s Wii video-game console, added 5.8 percent to $28.69.

Energy shares rose and premium crude for July delivery increased 73 cents to $127.35 a barrel as the dollar pared earlier gains, reaffirming the appeal of commodities priced in the U.S. currency as an inflation hedge. ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, added $2.14 to $93.10. Schlumberger Ltd., the world’s biggest oilfield contractor, gained 14 cents to $101.13.

Natural gas rose amid speculation demand will increase as warmer weather boosts the need for gas-fired power plants to produce electricity to run air conditioners for cooling. Chesapeake Energy Corp., the second-biggest U.S. independent natural gas producer, rose $2.46, or 4.7 percent, to $54.77.

“We like energy stocks, the demand and supply dynamics over the long term are very favorable,” said Alan Gayle, the Richmond senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Capital Management.

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