Stocks rebounded from early losses yesterday, closing higher as National Semiconductor's better-than-expected earnings soothed investors' concerns over higher unemployment and...
NEW YORK Stocks rebounded from early losses yesterday, closing higher as National Semiconductor’s better-than-expected earnings soothed investors’ concerns over higher unemployment and rising oil prices.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 58.59 to 10,552.82. The Dow had been down more than 75 points earlier in the session.
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Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, slipped 13 cents to close at $27.23 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, edged 2 cents lower to $52.78.
Broader stock indicators were modestly higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 6.43 at 1,189.24, while the Nasdaq composite index gained 2.90 to 2,129.01.
National Semiconductor’s 22 percent rise in quarterly profits also offset poor sales figures from two other semiconductor makers and helped tech shares post small gains. The markets were headed substantially lower in early trading, due to the troubling economic data, before the chip maker released its earnings report.
“You saw the markets just turn right around after National Semi released their figures,” said Keith Keenan, vice president of institutional trading at Wall Street Access. “That helped restore a little optimism in the market, but there’s still a lot to be worried about. This could be pretty short-lived.”
The surprise climb in unemployment claims which rose by 8,000 to 357,000 last week added to lingering concerns about the job market from last Friday’s disappointing job-creation report. Wall Street had expected the Labor Department to report just 335,000 new claims.
Investors remained cautious as crude-oil futures rose for the second straight day, pushing past the $42-per-barrel mark. The market fretted about whether a small build in U.S. heating-oil stocks was enough to last the winter, and pondered word from Kuwait’s oil minister Sheik Ahmad Fahad Al-Ahmad Al Sabah that OPEC may cut production early in 2005.
A barrel of light crude for January delivery settled at $42.53, up 59 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
“There isn’t any conviction out there right now on the part of investors,” said Lincoln Anderson, chief investment officer at LPL Financial Services in Boston. “They don’t have the conviction that profits have staying power into 2005. They don’t have much conviction that the economy’s going to grow at a decent clip. There’s a lot of undue pessimism out there.”
The good news from National Semiconductor helped the technology-heavy Nasdaq move into positive territory. Tech stocks started the session lower after Xilinx and Altera, the two biggest makers of programmable microchips, each reported a larger drop in sales than was previously expected.
National Semiconductor gained 79 cents to $16.79, while Xilinx fell $1.01 to $29.72, and Altera tumbled $1.73 to $20.47.
National Semiconductor’s earnings failed to revive the rest of the chip sector. Intel lost 25 cents to $22.76 and rival Advanced Micro Devices was down 80 cents at $22.10.