- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 28, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Wall Street barreled higher yesterday, lifting the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than 250 points, as investors celebrated a string of positive economic data. The rally brought the market's major indexes back to levels not seen since the summer.
Trading was light in the preholiday session, but the gains were big with the Nasdaq Composite Index also rising sharply, picking up more than 40 points.
The market's sharp advance defied expectations that stocks would pull back after nearly two months of rallies and that traders would be more cautious ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Investors first got a lift from a jump in consumer spending the news helped the market shake off its disappointment from the previous session, when it was irked by a weaker-than-expected reading on consumer sentiment.
Investors were also pleased by a spike in orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket items and an increase in manufacturing activity in the Midwest. Analysts said the trio of positive reports assuaged investors' concerns that the economy could slip back into recession.
"The numbers suggest the economy is indeed resilient and the consumer has stayed on track where spending is concerned," said Kevin Caron, market strategist, Ryan, Beck & Co.
The Dow closed up 255.26, or 2.9 percent, at 8,931.68. The Dow more than recouped the 172.98 lost in the previous session and was on its way to an eighth straight winning week.
The last time the Dow closed higher was Aug. 22 when it stood at 9,053.60.
In another sign of the market's growing momentum, the Dow enjoyed its best day before Thanksgiving ever, surpassing the 2.5 percent gain seen in 1957, according to Markethistory.com.
The broader market up for six of the past seven weeks was also higher yesterday. The Nasdaq soared 43.51, or 3 percent, to 1,487.94. The last time the Nasdaq finished higher than that was June 19, when it was at 1,496.83.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 25.56, or 2.8 percent, to 938.87. The last time the S&P; finished higher was Aug. 26, when it stood at 947.95.
"Today, the market couldn't hold back. It had to respond to the batch of positive economic news," said Peter Cardillo, president of Global Partner Securities Inc.
Trading was light in advance of today's holiday, when the market will be closed.
Yesterday's gains came after a report from the Commerce Department saying consumers ratcheted up their spending by 0.4 percent in October. It was the biggest increase in three months.
The market's upward momentum intensified after upbeat reports on durable goods and manufacturing activity in the Midwest.
Analysts said the reports built a strong case for a resilient economy, rather than one that is prone to reverting to recession.
"What is most telling in the composite picture is what the numbers aren't saying. The numbers are not indicative of an economy that is rolling over for the double-dip [recession] scenario. This is very important because this has been a debate for the last year," Mr. Caron said.
Retailers traded higher on the consumer-spending report. Target rose $1.72 to $35.30 and Best Buy advanced $1.41 to $27.03.
Auto and appliance makers got a lift from the durable-goods report. DaimlerChrysler climbed $1.73 to $35.50, while Maytag rose $1.29 to $30.24.
Technology also enjoyed solid gains. For nearly two months, the tech sector has fared the best in Wall Street's rallies, a sign that investors are growing more confident about the economy's progress.
Microsoft rose $1.18 to $58.08 and Cisco Systems climbed 38 cents to $14.83.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 5 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume was light at 1.71 billion shares, below Tuesday's 1.97 billion.
The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller-company stocks, rose 11.91, or 3 percent, to 410.23.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average finished yesterday up 0.6 percent. In Europe, France's CAC-40 rose 3.1 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 gained 1.8 percent and Germany's DAX index advanced 4.8 percent.

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