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Major Indexes Post Slight Gains

Tech stocks rise, but Wall Street has its first back-to-back losing weeks since August.

November 22, 2003|From Reuters

Technology stocks rose Friday as investors stepped cautiously back into the market after declines earlier this week. But the gains weren't big enough for Wall Street to avoid its first back-to-back losing weeks since August.

The tech-focused Nasdaq composite index gained 11.96 points, or 0.6%, to 1,893.88, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 1.63 points, or 0.2%, to 1,035.28. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average rose 9.11 points, or 0.1%, to 9,628.53.

Advancers led decliners by 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange and by about 6 to 5 on Nasdaq. Trading was modest.

For the week, the Dow and S&P 500 fell 1.4%, while Nasdaq lost 1.9%.

On Friday the Dow was kept afloat by AT&T, which rose 90 cents to $20 in a late-afternoon rally. Lehman Bros. said in a research report that it expected AT&T to increase its dividend by as much as 30% in January and also possibly repurchase up to 15% of its shares. AT&T declined to comment.

Drug maker Merck was the Dow's biggest loser, sinking $2.95, or 6.5%, to $42.21. The company discontinued its second experimental medicine in 10 days -- this time a diabetes drug found to cause cancer in mice. The S&P pharmaceutical index was one of the market's biggest decliners, dropping 1.8%.

In other trading, Treasury bond yields inched up, and the dollar was mostly unchanged against the yen and euro. Oil fell 25 cents to $31.61 a barrel while gold gained $2.30 an ounce to $396, both in New York trading.

In other highlights:

* Department store chain Dillard's rallied $1.07 to $15.57. The company reported a wider quarterly loss as warm fall weather hindered clothing sales, but the loss was not nearly as steep as Wall Street had feared.

* Upscale retailer Nordstrom climbed $3.10, or 10%, to $34.92. The company posted better-than-expected earnings, and at least one analyst issued an upgrade on the stock.

* Among tech stocks, Intel, the world's largest maker of semiconductors, rose 49 cents to $32.32. Smith Barney boosted its fourth-quarter profit estimate after "upbeat" comments from Intel executives this week.

Texas Instruments, whose chips power more than half of the world's mobile phones, added 49 cents to $28.35. Dell, the world's No. 2 maker of personal computers, rose 46 cents to $34.52.

* Biovail, Canada's biggest publicly traded drug maker, slid for a sixth day, falling $4.33 to $18.89. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has started an informal inquiry into the company's accounting and financial reporting, the company said.

* Bear Stearns eased 28 cents to $71.57. The brokerage firm was subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in relation to the firm's mutual fund trading. Bear Stearns fired six employees last week in connection with improper fund trading.

* Freddie Mac, the No. 2 U.S. mortgage finance company, rose slightly after it found some closure on the long-running scandal over its accounting. Its shares closed up 3 cents at $55.67.


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