- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 13, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Bargain hunting lifted technology stocks sharply higher yesterday, but the market's overall tone was guarded as investors waited for first-quarter-earnings reports to begin in earnest next week.
Analysts said Wall Street wanted to see proof that business was improving before making any big moves. Stocks have fallen in recent weeks on fears that the market has rallied prematurely and overestimated the strength of the recovery.
"People are just sitting around and watching the market and trying to figure out what's next," said Michael Murphy, director of equity trading at Wachovia Securities. "They want to see more earnings, especially in technology, to get a better idea of what's going on with business. People also don't want to buy going into the weekend, because of all the uncertainty. What if something happens in the Middle East?"
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 14.74, or 0.1 percent, at 10,190.82, barely making a dent in its 205-point tumble yesterday.
Broader stock indicators moved higher, with the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index gaining 30.95, or 1.8 percent, to 1,756.19. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 7.32, or 0.7 percent, at 1,111.01.
For the week, the Dow and Nasdaq each lost 0.8 percent, while the S&P; fell 1 percent.
Some buying had been expected after the sharp decline yesterday that pulled the market down to levels last seen in late February. Yesterday's gains were gradual and tentative, however, with many traders appearing reluctant to make many new commitments until they hear more companies say profits are turning around.
In trading yesterday, technology stocks recorded the biggest gains, in part because the sector has had such a terrible year. The Nasdaq is nearly 10 percent below its 2002 start; in contrast, the Dow has gained 1.7 percent and the S&P; is down 3.2 percent.
IBM rose $1.41 to $85.60. The technology bellwether fell sharply during the previous sessions on rumors it was the target of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. The SEC later said it had opened and closed an inquiry into IBM without action.
Other tech stocks were higher, too, including Oracle, which gained 57 cents to $11.51.
Transportation stocks also advanced, assisted by a drop in oil prices after the forced resignation of Venezuela's president, who had restricted oil production to keep prices high. US Airways, of Arlington, gained 42 cents to $6.50. Oil-related stocks fell, however, including ExxonMobil, which lost $1.10 to $41.30.
Advancing issues led decliners 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 1.25 billion shares, compared with 1.51 billion at the same point Thursday.
The Russell 2000 index rose 11.73 to 515.46.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average lost 1.7 percent. In Europe, Germany's DAX index climbed 0.5 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 rose 0.5 percent, and France's CAC-40 advanced 0.6 percent.

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