- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) — Investors encouraged by another batch of better-than-expected earnings sent stocks higher yesterday, carrying Wall Street’s rally over to a second day. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed to its highest close in nearly five months.”We’d really written the first quarter off. So to get some pleasant surprises from corporate America is certainly helping the market,” said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co.Analysts said surprisingly strong profits have been the biggest contributor to the market’s gains this week, although the short and successful war against Iraq remained a factor in the advance.”All of this … will draw the value-hungry investors back into the market,” said Kevin Caron, market strategist with Ryan, Beck & Co. “Sure there are other challenges out there, but the big one is off the table. You have corporate profits in the first quarter that will probably be up 8 [percent] to 10 percent when it is all said and done.”The market’s broader gauges finished higher for a second day yesterday. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 14.80, or 1 percent, to 1,466.16, its best close in almost five months, or since Dec. 2, when it stood at 1,484.78. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 7.65, or 0.8 percent, to 919.02.Blue chips also gained, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up 30.67, or 0.4 percent, at 8,515.66, having soared 156.09 on Tuesday.”If you take a step back and think about where the market was two months ago versus today, you see there’s a much different complexion to the market. You see some of the riskier investments like technology and the Nasdaq leading the way and some safer investments lagging behind,” Mr. Caron said.Indeed, the tech-focused Nasdaq has climbed 9.8 percent this year, with the Dow gaining 2.1 percent and the S&P rising 4.5 percent.A string of upbeat first-quarter earnings reports helped boost the market. Investors have been heartened by the results, which overall have been surprisingly strong, given the economic malaise and the buildup to war in Iraq.One of the biggest tech winners was online auctioneer EBay, which rose $5.10 to $94.32 after posting first-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street’s estimates by 4 cents a share. Additionally, Salomon Smith Barney increased its earnings projections for the company for the year, and First Albany as well as US Bancorp Piper Jaffray raised their ratings on EBay.AT&T climbed $3.20 to $17.01 on profits that surpassed expectations by 15 cents a share. Boeing advanced 34 cents to $28.14 on earnings that were 11 cents a share stronger than analysts had predicted. Both are Dow industrials.Nextel rose $1.32 to $13.67 after reporting profits that surpassed expectations by 4 cents a share.But California Pizza Kitchen fell $4.07 to $19.80 after downgrades from RBC Capital Markets and CIBC World Markets.Advancing issues outnumbered decliners nearly 9-to-5 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was relatively heavy at 1.62 billion shares, just below the 1.64 billion traded Tuesday.The Russell 2000 Index, the barometer of smaller-company stocks, rose 3.81, or 1 percent, to 394.97.Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average finished yesterday up 0.04 percent. In Europe, France’s CAC-40 advanced 1.7 percent, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.3 percent and Germany’s DAX index gained 0.5 percent.

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