Successful elections in Iraq and a bevy of merger and acquisition deals pushed stocks higher yesterday in moderately heavy trading, with...
NEW YORK — Successful elections in Iraq and a bevy of merger and acquisition deals pushed stocks higher yesterday in moderately heavy trading, with beaten-down tech stocks enjoying the largest gains.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 10,489.94, up 62.74. Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, added 10 cents to close at $26.28 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained 68 cents to $50.60.
Broader stock indicators rose substantially. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 9.91 at 1,181.27, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 26.58 to 2,062.41.
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Yesterday’s move higher was actually less than many analysts had expected, given the success in Iraq and the wave of merger deals. But a handful of issues remain for Wall Street in the week ahead, including the Federal Reserve’s decision on the nation’s benchmark interest rate, due tomorrow, and Friday’s job-creation report from the Labor Department. By the end of the week, investors are likely to have a very clear picture of the economy and can invest with more confidence, analysts said.
“It’s an extremely important, even critical, week for the markets,” said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany. “This week will set the tone for February and March.”
In economic news, personal incomes rose by 3.7 percent in December, according to the Commerce Department, up from 0.4 percent in November. Much of that gain was attributed to Microsoft’s special $3-per-share dividend paid out Dec. 2, which pumped $32 billion into the economy.
New-home sales rose 8.9 percent in December to an annualized 1.098 million homes, better than November’s 12.1 percent drop but less than the 1.2 million home sales expected on Wall Street.
The flurry of new deals, meanwhile, showed corporate America’s confidence in the economy, which further cheered Wall Street.
“Not a bad Monday to wake up to,” said Jay Suskind, head trader at Ryan Beck. “We’ve had a lot of positive catalysts here, and I think people are seeing that January has been very oversold. So we’re moving forward, and the market is now focused back on growth and earnings.”
With the acquisition of Travelers, Metlife is poised to become the largest individual life insurer in North America, while giving Citigroup a stake in Metlife and a large infusion of cash. Metlife fell 19 cents to $39.75, while Citigroup added 67 cents to $49.05.
Dow component SBC Communications added 14 cents to $23.76 after finalizing its $16 billion agreement to acquire former parent AT&T. AT&T skidded 52 cents to $19.19.
Time Warner and Comcast have joined forces to make a $15 billion bid for bankrupt Adelphia Communications, according to media reports. The offer is short of the $17.5 billion Adelphia reportedly had sought. Time Warner edged 7 cents higher to $18, while Comcast lost 20 cents to $31.61.
Iowa-based newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises gained 64 cents to $44.55 after it agreed to buy Pulitzer for $1.46 billion in stock. Pulitzer, slated to become a Lee subsidiary, climbed 56 cents to $63.46 on the news.
Eastman Kodak added to the merger stream with a $980 million cash bid for Canadian printer software manufacturer Creo as part of its move into digital imaging and away from traditional film manufacturing. Kodak added 39 cents to $33.09, while Creo surged $1.82, or 12.67 percent, to $16.18.