Market Update: Stocks Brush Off the Clouds, Cheer Up and Put on a Happy Face! - TheStreet

At the close, this week, which was nasty, ended on a positive note. The major indices have been impressive, extending gains, with the brokerages, banks and semiconductors leading the surge.

With the

Nasdaq Composite Index closing at these levels, it was one of the largest point increases and percentage gains in the index in history, ending a streak of six straight declines for the index. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average also rallied sharply on the back of gains in the technology components and the cyclical names.

One of the market's leaders today was PC maker

Gateway

(GTW)

; the stock is rising 20.3% to $52.50 after reporting strong third-quarter results, soothing a market that had gone wild on the computer and semiconductor sector due to reports of slowing demand for computers.

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

,

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

and

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

all previously warned of earnings shortfalls, but Gateway seems to be doing fine. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

was also higher, moving up 9.2%.

Through the preannouncement season, analysts had tried to assuage investor fears, saying that the spate of preannouncements was natural, because companies tend to frontload that news prior to earnings season. Several strategists this morning expressed that current levels were a buying opportunity, including

PaineWebber's

Ed Kerschner.

Other earnings winners were leading the way up. Storage software company

Veritas

(VRTS) - Get Report

was up 11% to $135 after last night's strong earnings release, and

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

bounded 10.2% to $220.06.

Sector Watch

Retailers are improving, bolstered by the rebound in

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

, which tanked yesterday after warning. Department stores like

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

are moving up sharply. Penney is moving up solidly in particular, rising 17.6% to $10.44, and the

S&P Retail Index

is gaining 2.1%.

Oil and gas indices are hurting today, after Saudi Arabian officials said they do not intend to undertake any kind of oil embargo as a result of the Middle Eastern conflict and the potential opposing roles the U.S. and Saudi Arabia might play. (The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have a reasonably strong relationship, politically.) Lately, November crude oil futures were traded at $35.30, down from $36.09 yesterday. The

American Stock Exchange Oil & Gas Index

traded down 3.7% while the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Service Index

lost 4.5%.

The financials are finally gaining ground after several poor sessions.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

(MWD)

was lately up 10.1% to $77.94; the

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

rose 6.2% and the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange KBW/Bank Index

rose 5.1%.

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Bonds/Economy

Bond prices remained lower following this morning's hotter-than-expected reports on both consumer spending and wholesale prices.

Retail sales increased 0.9% in September, the largest gain since February, and 0.7% excluding autos. Economists polled by

Reuters

had forecast gains of 0.6% overall and 0.5% excluding autos. The data suggest that consumer spending, the primary driver of economic growth, continues to run at a very strong pace.

Meanwhile, the

Producer Price Index also rose 0.9% in September, the largest gain since February. Oil prices, which rose 3.7%, were largely responsible. The core PPI, which excludes food and energy prices, gained 0.3%. But that gain too was larger than expected. On average, economists had forecast the PPI to rise 0.5% overall and 0.1% excluding food and energy. The report fans fears that rising oil prices are leading to a faster rate of inflation overall.

The benchmark 10-year

Treasury note lately was unchanged at 100 3/32, lifting its yield to 5.728%

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