Sun, Nov 02, 2003 - Page 10 News List

US indexes reach six-month high


US stocks rose slightly on Friday, completing five straight days of gains to end the month with the largest monthly increase since April.

Treasury prices, gold, oil, and the dollar all rose.

US blue chip shares edged higher with the the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up 14.51 points, or 0.15 percent, at 9,801.12.

That marked the first time the Dow scored a gain in each day of the trading week since June. The Dow rose 2.3 percent for the week and rose 5.7 percent in October, the largest monthly gain since April, and the seventh up month in the last eight.

But tech stocks ended flat as investors drew back after large gains this month. The technology-laced NASDAQ Composite Index fell 0.48 points, or 0.02 percent, at 1,932.21.

The benchmark 10-year note rose 13/32 to yield 4.296 from 4.35 percent late on Thursday.

The dollar surged against the yen and rallied against other major counterparts. Both gold and oil rose with crude prices snapping a five-session losing streak.

Solid but uninspiring economic data tempered Treasury investors' enthusiasm on the day.

One report showed business activity in the US Midwest expanded in October for a sixth straight month and at a faster pace, although slower than Wall Street expected.

Separate data showed US consumer confidence improved only slightly in October, and consumer spending cooled last month for the first time since February as a boost from tax cuts faded.

"The consumer spending numbers were a little disappointing, but I don't think it's enough to overcome what was a spectacular GDP number yesterday. It's kind of a blah news day," said Stephen Massocca, head of trading and president of Pacific Growth Equities.

Upbeat earnings and forecasts from companies like insurer Cigna Corp underpinned the market.

Cigna surged US$9.08, or nearly 19 percent, to US$57.05. The company swung to a profit for the third quarter from a year-ago loss, raised this year's earnings outlook and set a 2004 view higher than Wall Street had expected.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp, the No.1 US independent oil and gas producer, gained US$0.77 to US$43.62, after it said its third-quarter earnings rose 45 percent due to strong oil and gas prices.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index ended up 3.77 points, or 0.36 percent, at 1,050.71.

Bonds held gains as the Chicago purchasing management's gauge of business activity bounced to 55.0 in October from 51.2 in September. Forecasts had pegged the figures at 55.5 and many in the market had bet on a reading closer to 60.0.

The University of Michigan confidence barometer for October inched up to 89.6.

"It's an encouraging sign, but of course we have a long way to go before you would say that the consumer is very optimistic," said Patrick Fearon, economist at AG Edwards & Sons in St. Louis, Missouri.

The two-year note added 6/32 in price, nudging yields down to 1.83 percent from 1.87 percent, but again still well above the week's low of 1.67 percent.

Five-year notes rose 6/32 taking yields to 3.25 percent from 3.29 percent.

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