- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) The Dow Jones industrials came a step closer to 10,000 yesterday, managing a solid rally as reports of U.S. military victories in Afghanistan increased hopes that the worst was over for the market.
The index has risen 21 percent from its 2001 low on Sept. 21, meeting the technical definition of a bull market, but many analysts doubt the momentum will last. They note that most of the gains represent the rebound from the sell-off after the September 11 terror attacks, rather than buying on concrete indications that business is turning around.
"The market's got a positive tone here, but it's not really running on rocket fuel," said Jon Brorson, director of equities at Northern Trust. "I wouldn't be surprised if the market falls back from here."
The Dow closed up 109.47, or 1.1 percent, at 9,976.46 just 23.54 below the 10,000 level it last held on Sept. 5. It rose 21.1 percent since Sept. 21, when it reached a low for the year of 8,235.81.
Broader stock indicators also did well. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 35.84, or 1.9 percent, to 1,934.42, within striking distance of the 2,000 milestone not seen since Aug. 7.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 12.41, or 1.1 percent, to 1,151.06, its best finish since Aug. 28, when the index stood at 1,161.51. The Russell 2000 index rose 6.40, or 1.4 percent, to 457.71.
Stocks have been advancing gradually as the market recovers from the sell-off after the attacks. Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the 10th time this year, in a move designed to stimulate business by making it cheaper to borrow money to expand.
News in the last week that the Taliban militia was retreating in Afghanistan cheered investors and professional money managers, who had been keeping large amounts of cash on the sidelines for fear that the uncertainty would cause stocks to fall again.
Wall Street is also happy about falling energy prices. Cheaper oil and gas bills mean consumers, whose spending accounts for two-thirds of the economy, have more money to spend on other goods and services.
In trading yesterday, financial stocks, thought to be an early leader in a market turnaround, were higher. American Express rose $1.07 to $34.20.
Technology stocks also advanced. Microsoft advanced 79 cents to $66.54.
Phillips Petroleum rose $1.53 to $53.35 on word it was merging with Conoco in a $15.4 billion stock deal. Conoco climbed $1.68 to $25.98.
Alcoa gained $1.37 to $38.49 after announcing 6,500 job cuts and a plant closure to improve efficiency.
Despite the market's rise, analysts say investors are well aware the economy remains weak. Third-quarter earnings reports were dismal and few companies offered any indications that business was improving.
Advancing issues led decliners 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange.


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