Markets & Finance

Stocks End with Strong Gains


Stocks closed with strong gains Monday as the market rebounded from last week's slide. Expectations that third-quarter gross domestic product will be revised upward on Tuesday, and strength in the U.S. dollar, helped boost sentiment.

Leading the way higher was the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which jumped 53.26 points, or 2.81%, to 1,947.14, thanks to strength in Internet, semiconductor, and biotech issues.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 119.2 points, or 1.24%, to 9,747.79. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 16.8 points, or 1.62%, to 1,052.08.

Already robust third-quarter gross domestic product GDP is expected to be revised higher to 7.8%, with many economists projecting better than 8% growth, from the previously reported 7.2% growth.

Economic research outfit MMS International sees 7.8% growth in third-quarter GDP, with most of the boost coming from strength in September inventories. MMS continues to project 5% to 5.5% gains for GDP in both the fourth quarter and first quarter of next year, with strength in third-quarter investment and net exports continuing through both of these quarters.

Also coming Tuesday are reports on existing home sales and consumer confidence. MMS expects existing home sales to hold essentially steady at a 6.7 million unit pace in October, and consumer confidence to jump to 85.0 for November, from 81.1 last month.

Meanwhile, data due out Wednesday including durable goods and Chicago PMI are expected to reveal solid gains for October as well, says MMS International.

Among stocks on the move Monday, Adobe Systems (ADBE) rose after UBS AG upgraded its investment rating on the shares to 'buy.'

Fairchild Semiconductor (FCS) rose after Lehman upgraded the stock to 'overweight' from 'equal-weight.' Lehman also raised its price targets on International Rectifier (IRF) and ON Semiconductor (ONNN).

However, a weak spot was home entertaiment software makers after both USB Piper and WR Hambrecht downgraded Electronic Arts (ERTS) and Take-Two Interactive (TTWO).

In telecom, wireless stocks rallied as a new rule allows U.S. cell phone users to switch to a new wireless service provider without losing their telephone numbers, raising the stakes in an already competitive environment.

Among the biotechs, ImClone Systems (IMCL) edged up after the company and Bristol-Myers (BMY) file a New Drug Submission with Health Canada for use of Erbitux for treatment of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR)-expressing irinotecan-refractory metastatic colorectal cancer.

Elsewhere, homebuilder Pulte Homes (PHM) moved higher after Wachovia upgraded the shares to 'outperform' from 'market perform.'

Shares of Boston Scientific (BSX) rose after a U.S. District Court denies the motion by Cordis seeking a preliminary injunction against Boston Scientific's Taxus drug-eluting stent system, and denies the motion by Boston Scientific seeking a preliminary injunctn against Cordis' Cypher product.

Aerospace giant Boeing (BA) fired its chief financial officer, Mike Sears, over the improper hiring of a former government official for the company's missile-defense unit, and covering up their actions during an internal investigation, according to news reports.

In merger news, Time Warner (TWX) intends to sell its Warner Music business to an investor group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. for roughly $2.61 billion.

UniSource Energy (UNS) is holding advanced talks to be acquired in Kohlberg Kravis-led leveraged buyout for about $850 million plus debt assumption of some $2 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Treasury Market

Treasuries fell in sluggish trade as stocks rebounded from the recent slump. Economic research outfit MMS International reports that some of last week's safety premium was unwound on Monday in thin pre-holiday conditions and Treasuries drifted lower for the bulk of the session. Losses were compounded at the front-end of the yield curve thanks to equity gains and confirmation of a $26 billion 2-year note auction on Wednesday. An upwardly biased set of data loom for Tuesday as well, which kept the market defensive, says MMS.

World Markets

European stock markets finished higher. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index gained 63.4 points, or 1.47%, to 4,382.4 as Congress for British Industry raises its 2004 GDP growth rate to 2.8% from 2.4%, and sees a slight interest rate hike as the economy grows.

In Paris, the CAC 40 was up 45.93 points, or 1.36%, to 3,412.05. Germany's DAX index rose 95 points, or 2.6%, to 3,737 amid reports European business confidence is seen rising as economies improve.

In Japan, the stock market was closed for a holiday. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 8.76 points, or 0.07%, to 11,848.56.


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