Sun, Jun 03, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Dow, Standard and Poor's 500 bask at record highs

AFP , NEW YORK

Wall Street celebrated a bumper week on Friday that left the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard and Poor's 500 stock indexes basking at record highs.

The Dow has notched up a series of record highs in recent weeks, but it took the S&P until Wednesday to smash its prior all-time record high struck during the tech boom of 2000.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 blue chips gained a strong 1.19 percent on the week to end at 13,668.11 points.

The broad-market S&P 500 leapt 1.36 percent for the week to 1,536.34.

The tech-heavy NASDAQ composite jumped 2.22 percent to close the week at 2,613.92.

Stocks soared higher during the week on a wave of fresh merger and takeover activity and as the foreshortened week's economic news raised hopes of improved future growth ahead.

One of week's larger deals saw Lehman Brothers and property firm Tishman Speyer team up for an approved US$22.2 billion acquisition of Archstone Smith, which owns a big portfolio of apartment complexes.

In another deal unveiled on Wednesday, technology products retailer CDW agreed to a US$7.3 billion buyout from private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners.

And the family that controls Dow Jones said on Thursday it would meet with News Corp to discuss its US$5 billion offer for the storied news group.

Some analysts expect the deal-making frenzy to ebb in coming weeks however, especially with the onset of summer when market activity traditionally slows.

"I don't think the M&As [mergers and aquisitions] are over, but the pace should slow down before summer," said Marc Pado, a market analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald.

He said Wall Street was probably due for "a pullback or a consolidation" in coming weeks.

Other analysts said the markets will still require an injection of fresh deals to help keep stocks on an upswing.

"With most of the important economic data for June now on the table and little corporate earnings news expected, investors will have to settle for deal news to keep the rally alive," said Frederic Dickson, an analyst at DA Davidson & Co.

"Although the economic data seem to be getting better, traders seem to be showing signs of cautiousness," he added.

The coming week's economic menu is relatively light, but traders were buoyed in recent days by economic reports they say bode well for future US growth.

The government revised first quarter growth down to a tepid 0.6 percent pace Thursday from a prior estimate of 1.3 percent, but many economists believe the worst of the slowdown is now in the rear view mirror.

And while an upbeat snapshot on the job market on Friday, which showed a better-than-expected 157,000 new nonfarm jobs were created last month, appeared to support such sentiments, there is one dark cloud still looming over the world's largest economy.

The housing market has yet to pull out of its slump and economists do not see much relief for homeowners around the corner just yet, especially as the US Federal Reserve is not expected to cut interest rates anytime soon as it remains preoccupied with staving off inflationary threats.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond rose to 4.956 percent from 4.861 percent a week earlier while the 30-year bond yield increased to 5.062 percent from 5.008 percent.

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