Wall Street averts disaster

By FRANK SAKDALAN UPI Business Writer  |  Sept. 13, 1996
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NEW YORK, Sept. 13 -- Superstitious folks are afraid of Friday the 13th because it's supposed to bring bad luck. But don't tell that to Wall Street, which was busy celebrating one of its best days by lifting its key indicator to a new height. Wall Street had good reasons to be merry -- the last two days of the week brought encouraging news that inflation remained subdued at both the wholesale and retail levels. 'Who cares about Friday the 13th?' said Michael Metz, chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer & Co. Wall Street was 'celebrating the encouraging news. There's a sigh of relief and a little bit of euphoria,' Metz added. Just the week before Wall Street was worried that signs of economic strength would force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates ahead of its Sept. 24 policy meeting to cool the economy and prevent a resurgence of inflation. 'Any concern about an immediate interest rate hike has been completely dispelled, at least for the time being,' Metz said. Alan Ackerman, senior vice president at Fahnestock & Co., concurred, saying there was 'a growing sense that the Fed won't disturb interest rates until after the elections.' For the week, the Dow Jones industrial average -- which rebounded 43. 65 points, or 0.78 percent, last week -- climbed 178.66 points, or 3.16 percent, to a record 5838.52. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index also ended the week at a new high, jumping 24.86 points, or 3.79 percent, to 680.54 after rising 3.69 points last week.

The technology-weighted Nasdaq Composite Index bounced back 49.28 points, or 4.33 percent, to 1188.67 after sliding 2.11 points, or 0.18 percent, last week. The New York Stock Exchange composite index, which regained 1.68 points last week, added 11.03 to 363.70. The American Stock Exchange Market Value Index jumped 10.24 points to 570.26 after edging up 0.34 point a week ago. Advances outpaced declines 1,935-952 among the 3,313 issues traded on the NYSE. Weekly Big Board volume totaled 1,942,014,080 shares, up from last week's 1,406,263,671 and from 1,888,973,724 a year ago. Stocks began the week on a strong note, surging as an improvement in bond prices cleared the way for the market's bid to extend Friday's rally, sparked by hopes the Federal Reserve will not have to raise interest rates immediately. The Dow jumped another 73.98 to 5733.84 -- its biggest one-day gain since soaring 85 points on Aug. 2. Economically sensitive components paced the Dow's second consecutive advance that brought the blue-chip indicator to within 44.16 points of its all-time of 5778.00 that was established on May 22. On Tuesday, stocks finished narrowly mixed after recouping some of their earlier losses as the market's two-session rally stalled on renewed weakness in bonds and profit taking. The Dow eased 6.66 to 5727.18 after coming back from an earlier 24- point drop. By midweek, stocks rebounded as a recovery in bonds from early weakness lifted pressure off the market, smoothing the way for rallying oil issues to lift the blue-chip sector closer to record levels. The Dow bounced back 27.74 to 5754.92 -- just 23 points shy of its all-time high of 5778.00. The Dow's three oil components rallied in tandem with the crude oil market following news that Iraq fired on U.S. fighter jets patrolling the no-fly zone over northern Iraq. On Thursday, stocks rallied along with bonds following benign inflation news but computerized sell programs near the close trimmed the market's gains and caused the Dow to narrowly miss its first new high in nearly four months. The Dow rose 17.02 to 5771.94. The key barometer was up 36.99 an hour before the close. At week's end, stocks rallied along with bonds from the opening bell following another benign inflation news, catapulting the Dow Jones industrial average through the 5800 barrier for the first time. The Dow soared 66.58 to 5838.52 -- sailing past 5778.00 that has stood as the all-time high since May 22. The rally also lifted the S&P 500-stock index 9.39 to 680.54 for its first new high since May 24, when it closed at a record 678.51. For the week, Hanson topped the Big Board actives, edging up to 13 in dividend-related trading. PepsiCo followed, rebounding 1 to 29 . Motorola was third, dropping 3 to 48 after saying its third-quarter earnings would not meet analysts' estimates because of weak semiconductor sales and pricing competition. But other technology issues gained ground. IBM jumped 6 to 122 , Hewlett-Packard climbed 3 to 46 , Compaq Computer gained 2 to 60 and Micron Technology added 2 to 23 . Duracell International was the week's biggest net gainer, surging 15 to 62 after Gillette agreed to buy the battery-making giant in a stock swap valued at $7 billion. Gillette, the shaving and personal care products maker, also rose 6 to 70 . Among some of the blue chips, ITT slumped 9 to 45 , AT&T climbed 2 to 55 , Wal-Mart Stores gained 1 to 27 , Coca-Cola lifted 1 to 53 and Xerox slipped 4 to 53 , while Ford Motor inched ahead to 32, Chrysler added to 28 and General Motors advanced 1 to 49 . On the American Stock Exchange, advances outran declines 395-341 among the 882 issues traded during the week. Volume totaled 94,863,915 shares, compared with 69,043,125 a week earlier and 131,112,160 a year ago. Viacom class B led the Amex actives, climbing 1 to 35 . Harken Energy was next, easing to 2 . Intel paced the Nasdaq actives, climbing 6 to 88 following a better-than-expected report from the Semiconductor Industry Association. Microsoft followed, gaining 8 to 131. Cisco Systems was third, jumping 5 to 59.

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