Posted at 11:50 a.m., Friday, November 15, 2002
Dow rises amid choppy trading
By Hope Yen
Investors fretted over terrorism fears and brokerage downgrades of General Electric and Intel for much of the day before deciding a spate of mixed economic news wasn't so bad after all, analysts said.
"I think the numbers coming out this morning helped to calm people fearing two things: deflation ... and falling consumer sentiment," said Todd Clark, head of Wells Fargo Securities.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 36.13, or 0.4 percent, to close at 8,578.26, according to preliminary calculations.
The broader market finished mixed. The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.99, or 0.1 percent, to 1,410.53. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 5.47, or 0.6 percent, to 909.74.
For the week, the Dow gained 0.5 percent to post its sixth straight weekly advance. The Nasdaq climbed 3.8 percent and the S&P 500 rose 1.7 percent after snapping a four-week winning streak last week.
GE fell 64 cents to $23.86 after J.P. Morgan Securities cut the company's stock to underweight, and trimmed their 2003 estimates, citing credibility of the forecasts.
Intel dropped 53 cents to $18.68 after Merrill Lynch downgraded the technology company's stock to sell from neutral.
Mixed economic news befuddled investors for much of the day, creating choppy trading.
The Labor Department reported that wholesale prices shot up 1.1 percent in October, the biggest leap in nearly two years. The reading far exceeded analysts' forecasts of a modest 0.2 percent rise, allaying some concerns of deflation.
Separately, production at the nation's factories, mines and utilities fell by 0.8 percent in October, following a 0.2 percent decline the month before, the Federal Reserve reported. It was the worst showing since September 2001, when industrial production plummeted by 1.1 percent.
But the University of Michigan said its gauge of consumer sentiment for November rose to 85.0 from 80.6 in October, ending a five-month decline.
"The market is wrestling with the conflicting economic reports," said Charles G. Crane, strategist for Victory SBSF Capital Management. "We had industrial production weaker than expected, which would feed the fire of those who suggest the economy is in a softer spot than the consensus is suggesting.
"Adding to the confusion level is the notion that the consumer confidence figures were pretty good. So you have a lot of cross chop in the numbers today," he said.
Investors got more bad news on terrorism, when the FBI warned that al-Qaida may be planning a terrorist attack intended to inflict large-scale damage.
But investors remain generally upbeat following October's rally and are looking for reasons to buy, allowing stocks to rally yesterday on strong retail news.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 8 to 5 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was moderate.