- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) In another display of its immunity to bad news, Wall Street moved higher yesterday despite the prospect of disappointing sales at Wal-Mart and Federated Department Stores.
Analysts credited the market's resilience to investors' rising confidence that earnings and the economy are strengthening. That optimism has been evident in nearly two months of rallies with the strongest gains seen in the long-battered tech sector.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 44.56, or 0.5 percent, at 8,849.40 building on last week's gain of 2.6 percent, its seventh straight weekly win.
The broader market also advanced. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.32, or 0.2 percent, to 932.87 after last week's 2.3 percent gain.
The tech-laden Nasdaq composite index climbed 13.16, or 0.9 percent, to 1,481.90, having jumped 4.1 percent last week.
The Russell 2000 index, the barometer of smaller company stocks, rose 4.84, or 1.2 percent, to 404.84.
Analysts are impressed by the market's momentum but also expect it to pull back, perhaps ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend.
"The market has been on a winning streak. Perhaps the move has been too much, too soon. With a holiday-shortened week ahead, many traders are being very nimble, moving quickly in and out of positions," said Alan Ackerman, executive vice president of Fahnestock & Co.
Trading was choppy for much of yesterday's session with prices occasionally turning negative. Still, the market continued to shake off bad news, this time from Wal-Mart and Federated. Last week, the market edged higher in the face of a drop in housing construction and a profit warning from Hope Depot.
Wal-Mart inched up 6 cents to $53.82, recovering from earlier losses when it reiterated that same-store sales, those at outlets open at least one year, for November will rise at the low end of its 2 percent to 4 percent range. The retailer also said it cannot forecast sales for December.
But Federated fell 65 cents, to $31.71, after saying November and December same-store sales will range from unchanged to down 2.5 percent.
Investors have been sensitive to negative news involving consumers, whose spending accounts for two-thirds of the nation's economy, but they've kept buying on the market's own growing momentum.
Technology managed to build on recent gains, despite brokerage downgrades of big-name companies such as Intel and Cisco Systems. The tech advance indicates that investors are feeling better about the stock market and are willing to take chances on the sector that burned them the most in the bear market.
"It is not as if this is a brave new world in technology. We haven't seen a pick up in capital spending. But you get the sense that the market is pricing in the worst being over," said Bryan Piskorowski, market commentator for Prudential Securities.
Intel rose 43 cents, to $20.48, although Sanford Bernstein lowered its rating on the chip-maker to "market perform" from "outperform."
Advanced Micro Devices rose $1.09, to $7.95, after JMP Securities upgraded the chip-maker to "market outperform."
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 4 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume came to 1.55 billion shares, below 1.62 billion Friday.

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