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Stocks Post Some Early Gains

April 15, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stock prices rose modestly in the face of a large number of profit reports. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 20 points in early trading. Advancing issues on the New York Stock Exchange held a 7-4 lead over decliners.

The Nasdaq Composite Index gained a fraction and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index was up two points.

Positive earnings reports pushed stock prices higher as investors shrugged off a disappointing report on weekly jobless claims. Corporate earnings appear to have taken priority over the interest rate backdrop.

Before the opening bell, Citigroup reported a 29 percent gain in profit, helped by a solid performance from its fixed-income trading business and a positive rate environment.

Southwest Airlines and Continental recorded improved results despite high fuel prices. Southwest said its first-quarter net income rose about eight percent. Continental posted a narrower first-quarter net loss.

PepsiCo’s net rose 15 percent in the first quarter on an eleven percent rise in revenue.

Late Wednesday, Advanced Micro Devices said it returned to a profit and Texas Instruments’s profit more than tripled on strong demand for its semiconductors.

Before the market opened, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims jumped by 30,000 last week to a level of 360,000.

Some economic news was encouraging as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said manufacturing activity in the district rebounded sharply in April, marking the 12th straight month of positive readings.

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