October 14, 2006 in Business

Dow creeps up to sixth record close in two weeks

Tim Paradis Associated Press
 

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NEW YORK – The Dow Jones industrial average inched to another record close Friday to mark the third straight week of triple-digit increases in the blue chip index.

The Dow spent much of a quiet session Friday in the red following a strong surge Thursday in which it broke through 11,900 for the first time to set closing and trading highs. Thursday’s advance came amid optimism over the health of corporate earnings and Friday’s gain put the Dow 12,000 benchmark within closer reach.

The index’s gain Friday marked the Dow’s sixth record close in two weeks. Stocks showed little overall movement Friday as traders were unimpressed with a profit report from General Electric Co. and after brokerages issued negative comments about Home Depot Inc. Oil prices, which have driven stocks as they have fallen in recent weeks, moved higher Friday, holding the major indexes to modest gains.

“I think more than anything today we’re sort of consolidating yesterday’s gain,” said Mike Malone, trading analyst at Cowen & Co.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 12.81, or 0.11 percent, to 11,960.51, passing the record close of 11,947.70 set Thursday as well as an intraday high of 11,959.62 reached Thursday.

Broader stock indicators also advanced. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 2.79, or 0.20 percent, at 1,365.62 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 11.11, or 0.47 percent, at 2,357.29.

The Dow rose 110.30 points, or 0.93 percent, for the week, while the S&P gained 1.19 percent and the Nasdaq rose 2.49 percent. Despite the overall gains in the market, the S&P stands about 10.6 percent below its high close of 1,527.46 and the Nasdaq is even further off, about 53 percent below its March 2000 high of 5,048.62.

Bonds fell, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rising to 4.80 percent from 4.77 percent late Thursday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Light, sweet crude settled up 82 cents at $58.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The markets were caught off guard Friday by a 0.4 percent decline in September retail sales. The drop reported by the Commerce Department stemmed from a 9.3 percent decline in spending on gasoline. Spending increased in other areas, however.

Consumers have grown more upbeat as gas prices have fallen. The University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment figure, released Friday, was a stronger-than-expected 92.3 for October. That compares with a 85.4 reading for September.

Noman Ali, a portfolio manager for U.S. equities at MFC Global Investment Management, said investor enthusiasm in recent weeks is tied to expectations of strong profit reports and the notion that consumers have continued to open their wallets.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to about 1.51 billion shares, compared with 1.56 billion Thursday.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies was up 5.56, or 0.73 percent, at 762.65.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average closed up 1.02 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 closed up 0.59 percent, Germany’s DAX index was up 0.22 percent, and France’s CAC-40 was down 0.15 percent.

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