Wall Street managed a moderate gain yesterday in a volatile session that saw investors alternating between worries about interest rates...
NEW YORK — Wall Street managed a moderate gain yesterday in a volatile session that saw investors alternating between worries about interest rates and delight in a new wave of merger deals.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 30.15 to 10,804.51.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, inched up 2 cents to close at $25.11 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained 22 cents to $57.71.
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Broader stock indicators also moved higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 6.75 at 1,206.83, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 9.44 to 2,051.04.
News of a successor to Michael Eisner at Walt Disney Co. and a new chief executive officer at insurer AIG lifted stocks, as did planned acquisitions by Altria Group and IBM.
However, the gains were muted by the inflation worries that sent stocks falling last week, as Federal Reserve board member Janet Yellen warned that rising interest rates could hurt borrowers. A rise in oil prices also unnerved investors, with a barrel of light crude settling at $54.95, up 52 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
“Investors remain very, very concerned, and they should be, that we’re headed toward higher inflation and higher interest rates,” said Hugh Johnson, chairman and chief investment officer of Johnson Illington Advisors.
“No matter how you say it, higher inflation and interest rates is the biggest risk that faces the stock market in 2005, and we are now seeing why.”
Investors were pleased after Disney announced over the weekend that company President Robert Iger would take over for Eisner Oct. 1, a year earlier than planned. Disney shares rose 43 cents to $28.02.
AIG lost 86 cents to $63.85 after The Wall Street Journal reported Maurice “Hank” Greenberg could be stepping down as CEO as early as this week. The paper reported that Martin Sullivan, vice chairman of the company, could take over for Greenberg, who has been criticized for the insurance company’s mounting regulatory troubles.
In acquisition news, Altria Group climbed 3 cents to $65.17 after it announced a $5.2 billion bid for Indonesian tobacco company PT HM Sampoerna in an attempt to bolster its international business.
IBM said it will pay $1.1 billion for Ascential Software, a maker of enterprise data-integration software, as Big Blue furthers its strategy to become a software and services company. IBM gained 39 cents to $91.90, while Ascential surged $2.59, or 16.5 percent, to $18.29.
Even with commodity prices higher and inflation concerns deepening, the spate of acquisitions is a harbinger of improvement in the overall economy, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank.
“The confluence of optimism and cash on the balance sheets has resulted in corporate acquisitions,” Ablin said.
“This really underscores the optimism that corporate executives have in the economy at the moment, and that’s a good sign for investors.”