- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street rose modestly yesterday, nudging the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its third-straight record close as investors welcomed upbeat retail sales and jobless claims figures.

The Dow closed at 11,866.69, surpassing the record of 11,850.61 set Wednesday. The blue-chip index traded up to 11,870.06, which stands as its trading high.

Rising oil prices didn’t smother investors’ good mood.

“Considering the distance we’ve come over the last three months, and certainly the last three days, it’s interesting we could have a data point like oil’s climb and not have the market back up much,” said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co. “It’s certainly a scenario where the longer- term prospects for the market are looking more positive.”

Stocks pulled back briefly after Charles Plosser, the newly installed president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, signaled that further Fed interest-rate increases may be in the best interests of the economy’s long-term performance.

The Dow rose 16.08, or 0.14 percent. The blue chips have gained 196.34 over the past three sessions; on Tuesday, the index shattered closing and trading highs that had stood since Jan. 24, 2000, toward the end of the dot-com boom.

Broader stock indicators were also higher yesterday. The S&P; 500 Index rose 3.00, or 0.22 percent, to 1,353.22, and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 15.39, or 0.67 percent, to 2,306.34.

Advancing issues led decliners by roughly 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bonds fell as stocks wavered, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note at 4.61 percent, up from 4.56 percent Thursday. The U.S. dollar was mostly higher against other major currencies. Gold prices rose.

Crude-oil futures rose. A barrel of light crude settled at $60.03, up 62 cents in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The day’s economic news was stronger than expected, with retailers such as Target Corp., Nordstrom Inc. and Limited Brands Inc. reporting their same-store sales last month surpassed analysts forecasts. Also, the number of new unemployment claims dropped to its lowest level in 10 weeks.

Still, just where stocks are in their long recovery from their 2002-03 lows remains a topic of debate on Wall Street.

Some traders have questioned the depth of the rally, saying technical markers such as the ratio of advancers to decliners are weaker than they have hoped. And while the Dow has recovered, the S&P; 500 still remains more than 11 percent off its all-time high.

Other traders say the market’s biggest fears — high energy prices and additional rate increases by the Federal Reserve — are behind it, leaving room for a greater run-up in stock prices.

Hugh Johnson, chairman and chief investment officer of Johnson Illington Advisors, said he sees this as a stock market in the more advanced stages of a recovery that has been driven, in large part, by declining energy prices.

In company news, Wyeth fell 28 cents to $50.90 after a Philadelphia jury awarded a woman $1.5 million after finding that the drug company’s hormone-replacement drug was a factor in her breast cancer.

This is the second such case against the company to go to trial; Wyeth won the first.

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