December 29, 2004 in Business

Consumer report boosts stock prices

Associated Press
 

NEW YORK – Wall Street resumed its year-end rally Tuesday, bolstered by a new report which showed consumer confidence had jumped sharply in recent weeks. All three major indexes reached new multiyear highs in light holiday-week trading.

Investors welcomed the latest reading of the Conference Board consumer confidence index, which rose to 102.3 in December from 92.6 in November. Wall Street had expected a reading of 94. In a trading week that traditionally carries little news, the better-than-expected reading had a stronger-than-usual influence on trading.

Falling crude oil futures helped boost investor sentiment and reverse Monday’s losses. Oil prices stabilized after falling 7 percent on Monday. A barrel of light crude settled at $41.77, up 45 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“The consumer confidence figure was very telling, confirming what we’ve seen in consumer spending and job growth,” said Kevin Caron, market strategist for Ryan, Beck & Co.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 78.41, or 0.73 percent, to 10,854.54, surpassing the previous 3 1/2 -year high set on Thursday. It was the best close for the Dow since June 13, 2001.

Broader stock indicators were moderately higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 8.62, or 0.72 percent, at 1,213.54, the highest close for the index since Aug. 3, 2001. The Nasdaq composite index gained 22.97, or 1.07 percent, to 2,177.19, its best showing since June 8, 2001.

Stocks recovered from Monday’s dip, when investors worried about the economic impact of the Asian earthquake disaster. Analysts said that while events may cause more pauses in the market’s recent rally, the overall upward trend in stocks would likely continue through January.

Advancing issues outweighed decliners by nearly 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where preliminary consolidated volume came to 1.25 billion shares, compared with 1.17 billion on Monday.

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