- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2009


NEW YORK — Wall Street managed an advance the hard way — zigzagging on a mix of earnings and economic news before closing moderately higher.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 38.47 points, or 0.48 percent, to 8,116.03, after briefly falling into negative territory.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.62 points, or 0.56 percent, to 836.57, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 12.17 points, or 0.82 percent, to 1,489.46.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 5.70 points, or 1.28 percent, to 450.06.

The major indexes changed course during Monday’s session, rising in response to Pfizer Inc.’s $68 billion planned acquisition of Wyeth, a deal that reassured investors that mergers could still take place in a recession. In addition, the National Association of Realtors said existing homes rose rather than fell in December, stirring hopes that lower prices and falling interest rates are starting to erase at a glut of homes with “for sale” signs.

But mixed news from big companies weighed on the market. Downbeat comments from Caterpillar Inc. about the health of its business curbed the advance in the Dow industrials. Caterpillar shares dropped more than 8 percent after the maker of heavy equipment said plunging commodity prices left the company “whipsawed” in the fourth quarter. Caterpillar said it would offer buyouts to 25,000 employees in the United States and cut executive pay.

Home Depot Inc. also announced big job cuts. The company said it would slash 7,000 jobs and close its smaller Expo chain as it struggles with the weak housing market.

“There’s a lot of things for investors to digest in what is a very uncertain market environment, and I think that is why you see some hesitation,” said Todd Salamone, senior vice president of research at Schaeffer’s Investment Research.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 1.27 billion shares.

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