Wall Street advanced for a fourth straight session yesterday, meandering higher as some mixed economic signals left investors indecisive...
NEW YORK — Wall Street advanced for a fourth straight session yesterday, meandering higher as some mixed economic signals left investors indecisive about their next move following this week’s big gains.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 28.74 to 10,493.19 — extending this week’s rally to more than 350 points — after wavering in a narrow range through the day.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, added 22 cents to close at $25.92 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, slid 34 cents to $61.35.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 5.52 to 1,191.08. The Nasdaq composite index rose 11.93 to 2,042.58.
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Investors drew little guidance from a pair of economic reports, while oil prices were relatively steady after a sharp drop on Wednesday that helped drive stocks higher.
The Labor Department reported that the number of new people signing up for jobless benefits dropped sharply last week compared with a week earlier. However, the Conference Board reported that its Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell in April, the fourth consecutive decline in that gauge of future economic activity.
The strength in the labor market has helped drive the Federal Reserve’s policy of gradually raising interest rates to prevent an inflationary spurt in the economy’s growth.
Wednesday’s stock rally was fueled by a report showing mild inflation in April.
“We’ve seen a lot of mixed data, as is usually the case with fast growth going to slow and the Fed raising interest rates,” said Scott Wren, equity strategist for A.G. Edwards & Sons. “As the market becomes more comfortable with that, we think they’re going to be buying stocks.”
Mike Viracola, co-head of equities at Adams Harkness in Boston, said yesterday’s sluggish turn also may have been a reflection that the earnings-reporting season is winding down.
In addition, there was no new drama in the energy markets to play on investor concerns about soaring fuel prices. Oil futures slipped below $47 a barrel, settling at a new three-month low, after a sharp decline Wednesday driven by a report showing more strong growth in U.S. crude supplies.
Many analysts predict crude will continue falling in the long term — prices have dropped more than $10 since their all-time peak of $58.28 on April 4 — but investors remain leery.