- The Washington Times - Monday, November 22, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — An afternoon rally spurred by a drop in oil prices pushed stocks higher yesterday, bringing investors back into the market despite lingering concerns over the strength of the dollar and the nation’s trade deficit.

Trading opened lower on fears that the economy could slow down further, incited by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s warnings Friday that the U.S. budget deficit and trade deficit were putting more pressure on the U.S. dollar and the economy. Those concerns weighed heavily on Wall Street Friday, prompting a 115-point drop in the Dow Jones industrials.

Yet investors were cheered yesterday afternoon as oil prices fell slightly, and used the dip as an excuse to continue buying stocks, analysts said. A barrel of light crude settled at $48.64, down 25 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Dow rose 32.51, or 0.31 percent, to 10,489.42.

Broader stock indicators closed substantially higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 6.90, or 0.59 percent, at 1,177.24, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 14.56, or 0.7 percent, to 2,085.19.

Prompted by Mr. Greenspan’s comments last week, investors worried that a free-falling dollar, which has been regularly setting lows in recent weeks, could harm the inflow of foreign investment into U.S. stocks and bonds. The dollar was little changed against the euro and the Japanese yen, remaining near its historic lows.

Thanksgiving week has traditionally been a strong time for stocks, despite light volume.

Oracle Corp. slipped 7 cents to $12.68 after 61 percent of PeopleSoft Inc. shareholders agreed to Oracle’s $24 per share takeover bid. However, PeopleSoft’s board said the offer remains inadequate, setting the stage for a bruising takeover battle. PeopleSoft rose 19 cents to $23.36.

The board of Mylan Labs Inc. rejected investor Carl Icahn’s $5.4 billion offer to purchase the company, calling it a “self-serving” effort to intimidate the generic drug maker as it prepares to purchase rival King Pharmaceuticals Inc. Mylan skidded 23 cents to $18.65 while King climbed 14 cents to $11.29.

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