- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street rebounded yesterday after three straight losing sessions as institutional investors did some end-of-the-quarter buying to dress up their portfolios. Technology stocks, hardest hit in last week’s big drop, showed the biggest gains.

Upbeat news about consumer spending and an encouraging report on semiconductor sales sent some consumer cyclical stocks higher, but otherwise had little effect on trading, analysts said.

“It is certainly nothing to knock the market off its heels,” said Chris Johnson, manager of quantitative analysis at Schaeffer’s Investment Research in Cincinnati.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index closed up 32.49, or 1.8 percent, at 1,824.56. The gain followed last week’s drop of 6 percent, its worst week since the week ended April 26, 2002, when it fell 7.4 percent.

The market’s other gauges also rose after suffering their biggest weekly losses in months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 67.16, or 0.7 percent, to 9,380.24, having lost 3.4 percent last week, its worst weekly loss in six months, or since March 28, when it fell 4.4 percent.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 9.73, or 1 percent, to 1006.58, having shed 3.8 percent last week. The S&P; hadn’t seen a worse week in eight months, or since Jan. 24, when it lost 4.5 percent.

Wall Street was poised to end higher for a second straight quarter, a feat not seen since the fourth quarter of 1999 and the first quarter of 2000.

Analysts attributed the gains in large part to the end-of-quarter practice called “window dressing,” in which professional fund managers buy up shares of stocks to make their portfolios look better in quarterly statements to shareholders.

“I think the window dressing is really taking hold today,” said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co.

Wall Street had encouraging economic news from the Commerce Department, which said consumers increased their spending by 0.8 percent in August. The rise, attributable to consumers having extra cash in their wallets from tax cuts, met economists’ expectations.

Investors keep close tabs on consumer spending because it accounts for two-thirds of the economy. Consumer cyclical stocks rose after the Commerce Department report.

DaimlerChryler AG rose 67 cents to $35.71, while Maytag Corp. rose 12 cents to $25.47.

Chip makers Intel Corp. advanced $1.10 to $28.37 and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. rose 33 cents to $11.20. The catalyst was a report from the Semiconductor Industry Association, which said worldwide chip sales grew by 4 percent in August, the sixth straight monthly increase, according to Dow Jones newswires.

Brokerage-house upgrades boosted other stocks.

Apple Computer Inc. advanced 61 cents to $21.30 after Lehman Brothers raised its rating to “overweight” from “equal weight.”

Dow Chemical Co. rose 47 cents to $33.06 after Deutsche Securities upgraded the company to “buy” from “hold.”

But JC Penney Co. Inc. fell 58 cents to $21.38 after saying September same-store sales — those at stores open at least one year — would come in at the low end of its expectations.

Bank of America Corp. declined 8 cents to $78.72 after Lehman Brothers downgraded it to “equal weight” from “overweight.”

The Russell 2000 Index, the barometer of smaller company stocks, rose 7.42, or 1.5 percent, to 492.71.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 5 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was moderate at 1.31 billion shares, down from 1.44 billion Friday.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average finished yesterday down 0.9 percent. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.4 percent, Germany’s DAX index slipped 0.04 percent and France’s CAC-40 lost 0.9 percent.

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