- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) — Investors traded cautiously yesterday, pushing stocks moderately higher for a fourth day in anticipation of earnings reports later this week. Volume was light because of the Yom Kippur holiday.

Analysts said investors were optimistic after Friday’s government report showing a pickup in jobs for the first time in eight months. Motorola Inc. received a boost after announcing it would spin off its semiconductor business.

“It’s very quiet. Motorola has been the best stock of the day, but people are mostly waiting for earnings to come out,” said Todd Leone, managing director of equity trading at SG Cowen Securities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 22.67 points, or 0.2 percent, to 9,594.98, having gained 2.8 percent in the previous week. It was fourth straight day of gains.

The broader markets also closed higher. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 12.89 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 1,893.46, after a weekly advance of 4.9 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.50, or 0.4 percent, to close at 1,034.35, having risen 0.9 percent last week.

Stocks enjoyed a boost last week after a government report showed that businesses added new jobs in September for the first time since January. Although investors are largely upbeat, many are wondering whether prices are too high.

Third-quarter earnings reports will provide the most solid evidence of whether the economy really is improving, said Joseph V. Battipaglia, chief investment officer at Ryan Beck & Co. Results should “not just meet expectations, but beat expectations,” for the market to move higher, he said.

“It all comes down to getting those numbers,” he said.

Among the companies reporting this week are Alcoa Inc. today, Yahoo Inc. tomorrow and General Electric Co. on Friday.

Motorola rose $1.22, or 9.9 percent, to $13.50 after the company said it would make its semiconductor unit a separately traded company to focus on its mobile phones and other businesses.

PeopleSoft Inc. gained 62 cents to $20.43 after the software maker said its third-quarter earnings will come in higher than its previous forecasts.

Knight Trading Group Inc. climbed $1.85, or 15.3 percent, to $13.95 after the securities-trading firm raised its third-quarter forecast, citing an improvement in trading.

Losers included Duane Reade Inc., which fell $3.31, or 19.4 percent, to $13.80, after the drugstore chain lowered its estimates for the third quarter and the year, blaming slow sales.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 3-to-2 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was light.

The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller-company stocks, rose 4.45, or 0.9 percent, to 516.73.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average finished 0.3 percent higher yesterday. In Europe, France’s CAC-40 declined 0.5 percent, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent and Germany’s DAX index dropped 0.4 percent.

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