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Stocks Up on 9/11 Anniversary

Investors push the major indexes higher despite jobs report. The Dow rises 39.30 points.

September 12, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

Stocks closed higher Thursday despite a disappointing jobs report, as investors marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks that devastated Wall Street two years ago.

"Because of the anniversary, you'll get somewhat of a patriotic rally," said Michael Murphy, head of equity trading at Wachovia Securities. "There's no question that there's some of that in the market today."

The major market gauges finished higher after two straight days of declines. Software maker Adobe Systems surged more than 8% after posting strong earnings, providing a boost to technology shares and helping reignite investor optimism over the outlook for corporate profits.

The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average closed with a gain of 39.30 points, or 0.4%, to 9,459.76, though it pulled back after rising as much as 82 points.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 5.50 points, or 0.5%, to 1,016.42. The technology-laced Nasdaq composite index climbed 22.28 points, or 1.2%, to 1,846.09.

Winners led losers by almost 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq in moderate trading.

Traders paused for moments of silence four times to mark the moments when planes hit the twin spires of the World Trade Center and the moments the towers collapsed. The 2001 attacks forced the NYSE to close for four days -- its longest shutdown since the 1930s.

Investors shrugged off a report pointing to a still-dismal labor market. The number of U.S. workers lining up to claim first-time unemployment benefits showed a surprise increase last week, the Labor Department said.

Expectations for improvement in the nation's economy and corporate profits in the months ahead have fueled a sharp rally in stocks since mid-March. So far this year, Nasdaq is up more than 38%, the S&P 500 is up almost 16% and the Dow has climbed more than 13%.

Adobe surged $3.07 to $39.46 on Thursday, one day after the company posted a quarterly profit that topped forecasts along with a 12% rise in sales stemming from strong demand for its electronic document and digital publishing software.

Pessimistic comments from brokerage Smith Barney, which cut its investment rating on a number of technology stocks, had pressured the market earlier in the session.

Communications microchip makers PMC-Sierra and Applied Micro Circuits declined after Smith Barney said a sharp rise in the shares has pushed the relative valuation of the companies above historical levels as well as above those of other chip makers.

PMC-Sierra ended down 13 cents to $13.65 after trading as low as $12.87. Applied Micro lost 29 cents to $5.59 after trading as low as $5.51.

But TriQuint Semiconductor jumped $1.13, or 20%, to $6.81 after it said it was raising its financial outlook for the third and fourth quarters, citing strong chip demand from the wireless phone market.

The SOX index of semiconductor stocks gained 1.6%, rebounding a bit from Wednesday's 5.3% sell-off.

In other trading, oil slipped back below $29 a barrel, falling 53 cents to $28.82 in New York.

Treasury bond yields rose despite the weak jobs report. The yield on the benchmark 10-year T-note climbed to 4.32% from Wednesday's close of 4.27%. The government sold $13 billion of 10-year notes and demand was below expectations.

In other highlights:

* IBM, after spending the morning in negative territory, ended up 8 cents at $87.92. Smith Barney cut its rating on the computer heavyweight and recommended that clients take profits in the stock. The shares fell as low as $86.40.

* Dow member United Technologies, the world's biggest maker of elevators and air conditioners, rose 47 cents to $78.29 after reassuring analysts that 2003 earnings will meet Wall Street's expectations.

* An analyst's upgrade of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones boosted newspaper stocks. Knight-Ridder gained $1.04 to $69.06; Washington Post increased $7.14 to $676.14; and New York Times rose 48 cents to $44.86. Dow Jones added $2.61 to $45.86.

* Huffy slumped 99 cents, or 14%, to $6.09 after the maker of bikes and other sports equipment said recent sales have been below expectations.

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