- The Washington Times - Friday, November 26, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks finished mixed in post-holiday trading yesterday as Wall Street meandered through a shortened session. The major indexes ended the week higher as investors looked forward to the results of the first weekend of holiday shopping and a key jobs report next week.

Wall Street struggled to continue its bullish streak, albeit in very light trading, as continued weakness in the dollar weighed on stocks. Reports that the Chinese central bank had sold off some of its U.S. Treasury notes due to the low dollar turned out to be unsubstantiated, boosting the dollar against the yen. The dollar reached another new low against the euro, however.

The trading day ended at 1 p.m. EST as part of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.92, or 0.02 percent, to 10,522.23.

Broader stock indicators were narrowly mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 0.89, or 0.08 percent, at 1,182.65, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 0.57, or 0.03 percent, to 2,101.97.

The holiday-shortened trading week reflected lingering enthusiasm over Wall Street’s prospects for a continued year-end rally. The dollar’s weakness continued to weigh on the markets, however, keeping the week’s gains minimal. For the week, the Dow rose 0.62 percent, the S&P; 500 gained 1.05 percent, and the Nasdaq was up 1.51 percent.

Investors already looked to next week for further news, hoping that consumer spending over the holidays would help revive the overall economy. The Labor Department is expected to release job-creation figures next Friday that Wall Street hopes will show signs of stronger job growth.

“Traditionally, this is a pretty light trading day, but the people who are in the market really want to be here, and they’re coming in with a positive bias,” said Jack Caffrey, equities strategist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. “Most everyone else will be looking ahead to next week to see how the retailers did this weekend and see how job growth will progress.”

As the holiday shopping season got under way with early morning sales across the country, retail stocks were mostly higher. Dow component Wal-Mart Stores Inc. lost 18 cents to $55.32 to buck the overall trend, while Target Corp. added 24 cents to $52.21, Federated Department Stores Inc. was up 34 cents at $57.33 and May Department Stores Co. rose 55 cents to $30.19.

Chip stocks failed to get a substantial boost from the Semiconductor Industry Association’s latest sales report, which showed a 22 percent year-over-year increase in sales in October. Sales rose 1.5 percent month-to-month. Dow component Intel Corp. lost 40 cents to $23.21 on the news, while Advanced Micro Devices Inc. slipped 4 cents to $21.53.

Delta Air Lines Inc. lost 6 cents to $6.92 after it said late Wednesday that it reached new agreements with its lenders and aircraft lessors, wrangling $57 million in concessions from 2005 through 2009 in exchange for 4.4 million shares of Delta stock.

Oracle Corp. said it will nominate four people to the board of PeopleSoft Inc., part of its bid to acquire the rival software company that likely will trigger a proxy battle. Oracle slipped 13 cents to $12.66, while PeopleSoft was up 2 cents at $23.54.

Taser International Inc. skidded $3.51, or 6.95 percent, to $47 after the New York Times reported that an Air Force laboratory that conducted tests on the company’s non-lethal stun weapons disagreed with the company that the tasers were safe, and that more studies were needed to asses their risks.

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