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Dow Gains 100; Tech Shares Boost Nasdaq

January 29, 1998|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Stocks galloped ahead on Wednesday as worries over corporate earnings, Asia and the White House crisis continued to recede.

In other markets, the dollar sank against the Japanese yen while surging against the German mark. Gold prices jumped.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 100.39 points, or 1.3%, to 7,915.47--the second consecutive 100-point gain for the blue-chip index.

More important, the broad market also rallied strongly, with the Nasdaq composite rocketing 31.92 points, or 2%, to 1,610.82, as technology stocks zoomed.

Winners topped losers by 19 to 10 on the New York Stock Exchange and by 25 to 17 on Nasdaq. Trading was very heavy.

Before Tuesday the market had been mired in a four-session slump, weighed down by concerns over Asia's economic woes, some weak corporate earnings reports and the latest allegations of impropriety against President Clinton.

But key Asian markets have appeared to stabilize in recent days, leading up to their closure for part or all of this week because of the Chinese New Year and Ramadan holidays.

Meanwhile, Clinton's more assertive stance in recent days, capped by Tuesday night's generally well-received State of the Union address, also has helped market sentiment.

What's more, "companies are coming through with earnings that are a lot more respectable than I anticipated," said Art Bonnel, a money manager at US Global Investors in San Antonio, which oversees $1.5 billion.

With just two sessions to go in January, the Dow and Standard & Poor's 500 index are showing small year-to-date gains. That is important, because any market gain in January has often signaled a gain for the year, while a loss in January has often signaled a loss for the year.

In other trading Wednesday, the dollar had its biggest gain against the mark in more than six months amid evidence that German consumer confidence is falling and German banks are being hurt by the slowdown in Asia. But the dollar continued to wane against the Japanese yen, as traders bet that Japan will take major steps soon to boost its economy.

The dollar leaped to 1.812 marks from 1.784 Tuesday, while slipping 0.57 yen to 124.75.

Gold, continuing its rebound, surged $5.40 to $305.90 an ounce. It recently hit 18-year lows.

Among Wednesday's highlights:

* Strong earnings reports sent AlliedSignal up $2.50 to $39.31, DuPont up $1.88 to $57.88 and rail giant Norfolk Southern up $1.19 to $31.69.

* But some multinational consumer-products companies were weaker after reporting earnings. Gillette, for example, fell $2.25 to $100 despite reporting quarterly earnings up 18%.

Procter & Gamble lost $1.63 to $79.25 one day after reporting stronger earnings but also warning that profit derived from Asia will be lower this year.

Coca-Cola, however, rose 88 cents to $64.13 after it reported earnings up 7% in the quarter.

* Tech shares zoomed, paced by Oracle, which gained $2.19 to $21.19 after Chairman Lawrence Ellison said he expects North American sales to grow 25% in the fiscal third quarter.

Other tech winners included Intel, up $1.75 to $80.88; Microsoft, up $3.81 to $149 (just below the all-time high of $150.75); Tellabs, up $5.13 to $50.94; Texas Instruments, up $3.81 to $55.31; and Vitesse Semiconductor, up $2.19 to $42.88.

* Airline stocks soared on strong earnings reports from companies such as UAL, parent of United, and Alaska Air. UAL rose $1.69 to $88.25 while Alaska soared $6.13 to $50. Also, Delta jumped $4.25 to $114.38 and Southwest added $2 to $27.63.

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