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Stocks End Higher; Dow Up 103.16

February 18, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ Blue-chip stocks rose Thursday as investors, perhaps using proceeds from their recent sales of technology shares, began nibbling at a broad selection of consumer and manufacturing stocks. Broad-market indexes rose more modestly, as a recovery in technology stocks proved uneven.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 103.16 to 9,298.63, recovering everything it lost on Wednesday plus 1.6 point.

The Dow opened stronger, dipped briefly into negative territory but then resumed climbing in late morning and never looked back. With one trading session left, the Dow is up nearly 24 points for the week.

Broader stock indicators ended moderately higher, with the Nasdaq composite up 11.64 at 2,260.55, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 composite up 13.25 at 1,237.28.

But the tone of the market again failed to impress traders and technicians, who have been complaining for some time that even on days when the Dow finishes higher, the trend isn’t confirmed across the entire market.

Despite a respectable 1.1-percent gain in the Dow, for example, advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a relatively narrow 7-to-4 margin on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume on the New York Stock Exchange was a moderate 895.77 million shares, which traders cited as a lack of conviction even though it beat Wednesday’s volume slightly.

``The breadth tells me the whole story,″ said Larry Rice, chief investment officer at Josephthal & Co. ``The rallies are very narrow, and the sell-offs kill you. There’s really been very little leadership.″

Dow industrials that moved higher included General Motors, up 3 at 85 9/16; Merck, up 1 11/16 at 77 7/8; and IBM, up 3 3/4 at 174 1/4, as investors looked anywhere they could for reasonably priced replacements for the computer-related shares they have been selling all week.

``Investors are really going after these consumer cyclicals like retail and autos,″ said Ned Riley, chief investment officer at BankBoston, ``but I don’t think it’s a sustainable leadership simply because we’re in the eighth year of a recovery and one would think the pent-up demand for things like autos has long been exhausted.″

Financial services issues were mixed after an announcement that Dutch insurer Aegon NV is buying the U.S. life insurance company TransAmerica Corp. for $9.7 billion in cash and stock. TransAmerican shares surged 15 1/4 to 72 7/8, and Aegon’s American depositary shares rose 5 1/8 to 99 7/8. Insurance and brokerage stocks were moistly higher.

But banking issues fell as interest rates rose in the bond market, with the 30-year Treasury yield up to 5.38 percent from 5.31 percent Wednesday. Dow member Citigroup eased 1/8 to 52 15/16.

Technology issues were also mixed. Compaq fell 7/16 to 40 9/16 in leading volume on the Big Board. Dell Computer, whose earnings release late Tuesday has been dragging the market down, was up 1 7/16 at 83 in leading Nasdaq volume. But Microsoft slid 4 1/4 to 145 3/4, following a Wall Street Journal report suggesting the software maker’s antitrust trial well is not going well for the company.

The Labor Department reported this morning that its Producer Price Index rose 0.5 percent in January, the most since October 1996. But minus the volatile food and energy components, prices edged 0.1 percent lower, alleviating investors’ fears that inflationary signals might prompt the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates.

In other Wall Street action, the NYSE composite index rose 6.11 to 586.46, and the American Stock Exchange composite index rose 1.17 to 689.82.The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 1.55 to 391.09.

In overseas stock markets, the Nikkei index in Tokyo eased 0.08 percent. Frankfurt’s DAX index rose 0.73 percent, and the CAC in Paris climbed 1.35 percent, but the FT-SE 100 index in London slipped 0.06 percent.

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