- The Washington Times - Friday, December 19, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index notched a fourth straight week of advances after a day of mixed trading yesterday, when optimistic investors started to wonder whether stock prices were getting a bit high.

Trading was choppy on a day of little economic news. In addition, yesterday was a so-called quadruple-witching day, with the quarterly expiration of index futures and options as well as individual stock futures and options.

“It’s been an amazing week, and we’re trying to add to some of the gains,” said Peter Dunay, chief market strategist at Wall Street Access, a New York-based brokerage firm. He cited better-than-expected reports earlier in the week that pointed to strong manufacturing and low inflation.

“The economics are getting so much attention that as long as they stay positive” investors are looking to buy, Mr. Dunay said.

The Dow closed up 30.14, or 0.3 percent, at 10,278.22, following a three-day gain of 225 points. The blue-chip average finished yesterday at the highest level since May 17, 2002, when it stood at 10,353.08.

But the broader market finished lower. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 5.16, or 0.3 percent, to 1,951.02.

And the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.51, or 0.1 percent, to 1,088.67. On Thursday, the index rose to its highest closing level since May 23, 2002.

For the week, the Dow advanced 2.4 percent, the Nasdaq edged up 0.1 percent and the S&P; rose 1.4 percent. The Dow and S&P;’s four-week winning streak was the longest since the period ended Sept. 5; for the Nasdaq, it was the third winning week in four.

Stocks traded mostly higher for much of the morning before losing some momentum in the afternoon. Traders said rumors of a terrorist threat in New York City pressured the market, even though a city police spokesman said there was no “credible intelligence pointing to a specific or imminent terrorist threat.”

Stocks have pushed higher in recent days on growing investor confidence. Analysts worry, however, that much of the market advance might be coming more on year-end seasonal factors as investors put some of their year-end dividends and bonuses to work.

Mr. Dunay said some investors might be positioning themselves before the holiday next week, when trading is expected to be light.

“Most investors are thrilled to close right here and say, ‘Yeah, the market is going to go up this year after three years of declines,’” he said.

Dow component Alcoa Inc. climbed 92 cents to $37.30 after Morgan Stanley raised the stock rating of the aluminum producer to “overweight” from “equal-weight.”


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