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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:07 p.m., Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Stocks rise despite poor Kimberly-Clark outlook

Hawai'i Stocks
Updated Market Chart

By Amy Baldwin
Associated Press

NEW YORK Wall Street ended a tepid trading session today with a moderate advance after a disappointing outlook from Kimberly-Clark left investors questioning prospects for a solid business recovery in 2003.

Stocks struggled for much of the session to claim their gains.

Trading paled by comparison with yesterday, when the market rose sharply after the Federal Reserve issued a positive assessment of the economy and left interest rates unchanged on the belief that economic conditions are strengthening.

After falling as much as 86 points earlier, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 14.88, or 0.2 percent, at 8,589.14, according to preliminary calculations. The Dow rose 100.85 the previous session.

The market's broader gauges were also higher. The Nasdaq composite index rose 5.87, or 0.4 percent, to 1,396.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.50, or 0.05 percent, to 904.95.

Wall Street was pressured by Kimberly-Clark, which dropped $1.15 cents to $46.78 after lowering its fourth-quarter and 2003 earnings outlooks. The news was upsetting to investors who know that consumer products companies typically are among the safest havens in difficult markets due to a steady demand for their products.

Despite Kimberly-Clark's news, the market fought to climb higher, which analyst attributed to investors believing that the future looks a lot more positive for Wall Street.

"You have an improving picture and a better story for 2003," said Kevin Caron, market strategist at Ryan, Beck & Co., who noted that there have been a number of positive fundamental changes since September.

Among those changes, he said, was the Republican sweep of Congress in November's midterm election, bolstering chances of a $300 billion tax cut over 10 years.

Other analysts believe that with news of corporate scandals dissipating, investors will be paying closer attention to the economy's progress, which bodes well for stocks. And, after three years of declines, prices look appealing, especially with better economic conditions.