Blue chip stocks recovered from early weakness to finish higher Wednesday as investors shrugged off fears about the impact of a record monthly trade deficit. The broader market also recovered from its morning lows, but finished mixed.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 10.38 points to close at 4,082.99.
Declining issues slightly outnumbered advancers by about 8 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange with 1,133 down, 983 up, and 833 unchanged.
Big Board volume totaled 313.11 million shares as of 4 p.m., vs. 367.09 million in the previous session.
Before the market opened Wednesday, the government reported a January trade deficit of $12.23 billion, a rise of 68.4 percent.
The increase was caused partially by high demand for imported goods, such as toys, televisions, pleasure boats and cars. Some investors believe this indicates the U.S. economy may be growing too fast to avoid inflation.
The report helped send the dollar, bonds and stocks lower, but the losses didn’t stick.
Some of the stocks moving sub stantially or trading actively Wednesday:
Exxon, up 7/8 at 65 3/8.
Mobil, up 1 at 88 7/8.
Oil stocks rose, with the price of oil, after U.S. government officials said Iran was amassing weapons and troops on the Strait of Hormuz.
Merck & Co., down 1/2 at 44 1/8.
Eli Lilly, up 1 1/4 at 70 1/2.
Pfizer, up 1 at 87 1/2.
American Home Products, up 1 1/8 at 74 1/2.
Smith Barney upgraded its rating of these four stocks to “buy” from “outperform.”
Apple Computer Corp., up 1 13-16 to 38 1-16.
Microsoft Corp., up 1/2 to 70 15-16.
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said his company would continue to make software for Apple computers. Also Wednesday, Microsoft and DreamWorks SKG said they had formed a joint venture to create interactive products, such as game software, and explore other areas in digital distribution of entertainment. DreamWorks is the partnership of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.
Starbucks, down 1 at 23 1/8.
The Wall Street Journal reported that insiders of the premium coffee company are selling their shares.
Howtek, up 7/8 at 8 7/8.
The stock was recovering after a drop tied to an SEC investigation of Presstek.