- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2007

From combined dispatches

NEW YORK — Stocks resumed their climb yesterday after earnings from Oracle topped estimates and lower interest rates helped revive takeover speculation, sending the market to its biggest weekly gain since March.

Oracle, the world’s third-largest software maker, rallied to a six-year high after sales of new products increased. Sprint Nextel Corp. of Reston rose the most in almost three months, and Estee Lauder Cos. posted its best advance since January as investors increased bets the companies would be acquired.

The S&P; 500 increased 7, or 0.5 percent, to 1,525.75. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 53.49, or 0.4 percent, to 13,820.19. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 16.93, or 0.6 percent, to 2,671.22. The Russell 2000 Index of smaller companies gained 0.4 percent to 813.11.

The advance helped continue a rally spurred by the Federal Reserve’s Sept. 18 interest-rate cut. Thirteen of 17 S&P; 500 companies that reported results this week beat estimates, while $14.8 billion in takeovers involving U.S. companies have been announced since the day of the Fed decision.

“Liquidity is back in the market, confidence is returning,” said Michael Williams, who helps oversee about $3 billion as managing director of Beamreach Trust in New York. “You’ll see more friendly takeovers. That’s always a positive for the stock market. Tech is lighting the world on fire, beating estimates every time they turn around.”

For the week, the S&P; 500 and Dow each climbed 2.8 percent.

Oracle advanced 94 cents to $21.98, its highest price since February 2001, after the company posted a 25 percent gain in first-quarter profit to $840 million. Sales of new software licenses, an indicator of future growth, jumped 35 percent, the biggest quarterly advance in a decade.

Google Inc.’s stock reached a new high, reflecting renewed faith in the Internet search leader as it introduces new ways for advertisers to reach its steadily expanding online audience.

The shares rose $7.27, or 1.3 percent, to $560.10. Google, founded just 9 years ago, now has a market value of almost $175 billion, greater than that of Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp.

Sprint Nextel climbed 68 cents to $18.69 on renewed speculation the third-largest U.S. mobile phone company may be acquired. “The rumor is circulating again,” said Michael Nasto, senior trader at U.S. Global Investors, which manages 5 billion in San Antonio.

Estee Lauder Cos. surged $1.95, or 4.8 percent, to $42.58 for the top gain in the S&P; 500. Options trading also increased on bets that the maker of Clinique cosmetics will be acquired.

Texas Instruments Inc., the world’s biggest maker of mobile-phone chips, rallied 85 cents to $36.62. The company added $5 billion to its share buyback budget and increased its dividend by 25 percent.

Energy companies in the S&P; 500 climbed 0.6 percent as a group. Natural gas rose in New York as some Gulf of Mexico production was curtailed, and crude oil for November delivery held above $81 a barrel.

The dollar headed for the biggest weekly loss since November 1988 against the Canadian dollar, falling 3 percent. The U.S. currency lost 1.6 percent this week against the euro and set a record low yesterday on speculation the Fed will cut rates further to spur growth.

The 10-year Treasury note’s yield fell 7 basis points to 4.63 percent.

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