Wall Street scored its second straight big advance Thursday after economic figures suggested the job market is holding up and as lawmakers...
NEW YORK — Wall Street scored its second straight big advance Thursday after economic figures suggested the job market is holding up and as lawmakers agreed on measures that could ease concerns about consumer spending.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 108.44 to 12,378.61, after a nearly 300-point surge on Wednesday. The Dow has not finished higher for two straight sessions since Jan. 9-10.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, gained $1.32 to close at $33.25 ahead of its announcement of a 79 percent profit boost for its fiscal second quarter. Boeing, also a Dow stock, rose $1.05 to $77.62.
Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 13.47 to 1,352.07, and the Nasdaq composite index advanced 44.51 to 2,360.92.
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Investors were clearly interested in buying, but despite the size of the advance, there didn’t appear to be much conviction to it — the market is still searching for clues about the economy in hopes of determining whether it will soon pick up or will continue to slow and tip into recession.
Investors also appeared pleased by a widely anticipated agreement between congressional leaders and the White House on an economic-stimulus package. The agreement calls for most tax filers to be given refunds of $600 to $1,200, and more if they have children.
Bill Dwyer, chief investment officer at MTB Investment Advisors in Baltimore, said Wall Street found some relief from word of the economic-stimulus plan as well as the efforts of regulators to help bond insurers. He said the Federal Reserve’s decision to lower interest rates this week could also help some struggling homeowners hold on to their properties. The efforts, he said, could ultimately help stave off recession.
“People have that ‘R’ word stuck on the front of their forehead. It’s really just a dramatic slowing of growth. We may not have a recession,” Dwyer said.