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FINANCIAL MARKETS

It's Good Thursday for the Dow, Up 103

April 10, 1998|From Times Wire Reports

Stocks roared back Thursday as better-than-expected earnings from high-profile companies and tame inflation pushed the Dow Jones industrial average back up near 9,000 again.

The dollar was up slightly against the yen after a roller-coaster session that saw the Bank of Japan intervene to support its ailing currency. U.S. Treasury bonds ended mixed.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 103.38 points, or 1.1%, at 8,994.86 after edging over the 9,000 level for the second time this week. It had closed above the milestone Monday.

The blue-chip index was up 11.45 points for the holiday-abbreviated week. Financial markets will be closed today in observance of Good Friday.

In the broad market, advancing issues beat decliners 1,826 to 1,065 on moderate volume of 578 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

The S&P 500 index closed up 9.02 points at 1,110.67.

The Nasdaq composite index jumped 13.23 points to 1,820.24.

"We had good producer price numbers, which put the bond market in a reasonable mood, and some OK earnings numbers from Chrysler and Yahoo," said Charlie Crane, chief market strategist at Key Asset Management.

Wall Street also got good news that inflation fell in March for the fifth straight month, offering new evidence that inflation is virtually nonexistent in the economy.

The government reported the producer price index fell by a steeper-than-expected 0.3% last month, reassuring those concerned about inflation.

"The inflation numbers just give people confidence," said Arnie Owen, managing director of capital markets at Cruttenden Roth, referring to profit warnings already issued by companies.

Auto maker Chrysler Corp. gave the stock market a jump-start Thursday after reporting record first-quarter earnings of $1.05 billion, thanks to strong sales of its new Dodge Durango sport-utility vehicle. The stock closed up 44 cents at $43.50.

Rivals Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. got in on the joy ride. Ford's stock added $2.38 to close at $46.88. Ford reports earnings next week. GM rose 88 cents to close at $67.44.

"The short-term momentum is still alive and the market has entered a trading-range type of correction between 9,200 and 8,500," said Alfred Goldman, analyst at A.G. Edwards & Sons.

After the Dow's record close at 9,033.23 Monday, capping a stunning 14% surge in just three months, the market needed to pause and consolidate, analysts said.

"We will do this backing and filling for two to four weeks to work off the short-term excess, and then do better. The problem is not fundamental--we have just come awfully far, awfully fast," Goldman said.

Polaroid Corp. shrugged off a worse-than-expected $17.4-million loss in the first quarter to end higher because analysts said things should improve for the photo giant later this year. The stock closed up 94 cents at $42.88.

Consumer and business services provider Cendant Corp. tumbled on news that its vice chairman and two other executives had resigned in a management shake-up. The company, which agreed in March to buy American Bankers Insurance Group Inc. for $3.1 billion, said it would still meet or beat current Wall Street earnings estimates. Cendant was off $2.06 at $37.

The American Stock Exchange index rose 3.11 points to 740.61.

The NYSE composite index of all listed common stocks gained 4.67 points to 578.35.

Among market highlights:

* Dow component retailers Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Sears, Roebuck & Co. rose after their March same-store sales rose 6.2% and 4.7%, respectively. Wal-Mart ended up 81 cents at $50.81. Sears gained 44 cents to $55.94.

* In a strong financial services sector, American Express rose $3.25 to $107.06, while J.P. Morgan & Co. ended up $3.19 at $140.56.

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