- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 28, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Blue chips made a solid advance yesterday, the second in a row, as investors continued their search for bargains and big institutions bought stocks to dress up their portfolios.

But technology shares, which many market analysts predict will be the last to recover from recession, rose only slightly after struggling to stay on positive ground.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 73.55, or 0.7 percent, at 10,426.91. The Dow rose 71.69 Tuesday to break a four-session losing streak that began after the Federal Reserve indicated it might raise interest rates later this year to keep economic growth steady.

That stretch of declines made the blue chips much more attractive to investors yesterday.

The market's broader indicators had a more modest advance. The Nasdaq Composite Index inched up 2.58, or 0.1 percent, to 1,826.75, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 6.09, or 0.5 percent, to 1,144.58.

Trading was light, as it has been all week as traders prepared to celebrate Passover beginning yesterday. Also, the market will be closed tomorrow in observance of Good Friday. Price swings tend to be larger in light volume.

New York Stock Exchange volume came to 1.16 billion shares, down from 1.20 on Tuesday.

Analysts attributed some of the market's upturn to what's known as window dressing, an end-of-the-quarter practice in which institutional investors including mutual fund managers purchase shares to make their portfolios look more impressive in reports to shareholders.

Meanwhile, analysts said the buying had little to do with the Commerce Department's report on new-home sales, which rose 5.3 percent in February. The advance pushed up sales of single-family homes to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 875,000, less than the 890,000 analysts were expecting.

"I just don't understand why we've rebounded as much as we did. The housing numbers were good but nothing earth shattering. My guess is you have some window dressing going on," said Todd Clark, of Wells Fargo Securities.

Analysts expect stocks to make little progress as companies report first-quarter earnings beginning next month. While the results promise to be better than the previous quarter and even slightly above expectations, they still won't be robust.

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