November 26, 2004

Stocks Higher in Post-Holiday Trading

NEW YORK - Stocks edged higher in light, post-holiday trading Friday as Wall Street meandered through a shortened trading day with little fresh news or guidance.

At midday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 5.03, or 0.04 percent, to 10,525.34. Broader stock indicators were narrowly higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 2.61, or 0.2 percent, at 1,184.37, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 2.28, or 0.1 percent, to 2,104.82.

The strength of the dollar against overseas currency remained a concern, as the greenback reached new lows against the euro in overnight trading. Reports that the Chinese central bank had sold off some of its U.S. Treasury notes due to the low dollar turned out to be unsubstantiated, boosting the dollar against the yen.

The bullishness of recent weeks continued to pervade Wall Street, however, despite the larger economic concerns. Any losses Friday were expected to be minimal. The stock markets were scheduled to close at 1 p.m. EST.

"Traditionally, this is a pretty light trading day, but the people who are in the market really want to be here, and they're coming in with a positive bias," said Jack Caffrey, equities strategist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. "Most everyone else will be looking ahead to next week to see how the retailers did this weekend and see how job growth will progress."

As the holiday shopping season got underway with early morning sales across the country, retail stocks were mostly higher. Dow component Wal-Mart Stores Inc. lost 14 cents to $55.36 to buck the overall trend, while Target Corp. added 19 cents to $52.16, Federated Department Stores Inc. was up 19 cents at $57.18 and May Department Stores Co. rose 34 cents to $29.98.

Chip stocks got a boost from the Semiconductor Industry Association's latest sales report, which showed a 22 percent year-over-year increase in sales in October. Sales rose 1.5 percent month-to-month. Dow component Intel Corp. nonetheless lost 34 cents to $23.27 on the news, while Advanced Micro Devices Inc. slipped 3 cents to $21.54.

Delta Air Lines Inc. lost a penny to $6.97 after it said late Wednesday that it reached new agreements with its lenders and aircraft lessors, wrangling $57 million in concessions from 2005 through 2009 in exchange for 4.4 million shares of Delta stock.

Oracle Corp. said it will nominate four people to the board of PeopleSoft Inc., part of its bid to acquire the rival software company that will likely trigger a proxy battle. Oracle slipped 11 cents to $12.68, while PeopleSoft was up 12 cents at $23.64.

Taser International Inc. skidded $2.97 to $47.54 after The New York Times reported that an Air Force laboratory that conducted tests on the company's non-lethal stun weapons disagreed with the company that the tasers were safe, and that more studies were needed to asses their risks.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by nearly 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 334.15 million shares, compared with 540.52 million at the same point Wednesday.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies was up 2.66, or 0.4 percent, at 632.16.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.61 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.35 percent, Germany's DAX index lost 0.36 percent, and France's CAC-40 dropped 0.64 percent.


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