Nasdaq Leads as Productivity Spike Sparks Broad Advance - TheStreet

Wall Street investors were taking care of business today after an inflation-free

productivity

report sent stocks in every sector soaring across the board.

According to the

Labor Department

, productivity grew 5% during the fourth quarter, edging out the analysts' prediction of 4.2 annual percentage rate. The fourth-quarter report was the strongest in seven years. Unit labor costs also upset the insiders' prophecy of a 0.8% increase, and actually fell 1%.

Today's numbers indicated that productivity is continuing to climb without rising costs, thus dispelling worries of inflation. The report eased investors' fears that the

Fed

would over take interest rates to an even higher than expected level in order to curb inflation. So how did the market fare?

"It looks like we had a broad-based, strong day," said Jeffrey Warantz, equity strategist at

Salomon Smith Barney

. "We're not seeing any one sector standing out. We may have a slight tilt toward growth-type stocks and maybe some losses in selected issues

referring to

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

, but it looks like just good solid performance."

With fourth-quarter productivity forecasted to increase, today's number wasn't a huge surprise. According to Brian Gilmartin, portfolio manager at

Trinity Asset Management

, the decline in unit labor costs was the spark that ignited today's hot trading. "Unit labor costs declining was a big surprise. The biggest gains in productivity came in durable goods, probably in the auto manufacturers."

Today was a huge shopping spree on the tech-laden

Nasdaq Stock Market

. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

had one of its best days ever, closing up 105.83, or 2.5%, at a record-breaking 4427.60.

After the bell today,

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

announced second-quarter earnings of 25 cents a share, a penny better than the 34-analyst

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimate. The company also set a 2-for-1 stock split.

In after-hours trading, Cisco was up 3 3/16 to 129.

Gilmartin said the report could be a predictor for tomorrow's trade activity. "If that number wasn't good, it could have really taken some hair off the market. There's a lot of optimism built into that stock."

Reuters

(RTRSY)

ADRs were buoying up the Nasdaq, after it announced a new Internet strategy and a European wireless venture with

Aether Systems

(AETH)

Elsewhere in techland,

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index shot up 24.48, or 2.2%, to 1161.67, with

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

powering up by a hefty 6%.

RealNetworks

(RNWK) - Get Report

took the honors for the index's biggest gains, up 26 7/8, or 16.9%, to 185.

TheStreet.com New Tech 30

bounded 14.41, or 2.2%, to 662.32. Unveiled Jan. 5, the TSC New Tech 30 is a market-cap-weighted index focusing on tracking the so-called hot money part of the market. A list of index components is available at

http://www.thestreet.com/newtech/.

Biotechs continued to be a winner, with the

Nasdaq Biotechnology Index

up 5%. "Biotech stocks are starting to develop into real business with real revenues," said Gilmartin. "They're coming out with technologies that will be valuable to the pharmaceutical industry."

Immunex

(IMNX)

soared 13.4%, to 187 15/16.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

enjoyed a productive day, ending up 51.81 to 10,957.60. The interest-rate-sensitive financials were making a comeback, with

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

and

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

posting sizable gains.

"You're starting to see a rebound with brokers coming back close to their highs," said Gilmartin. "You've had P/E compression for the past year to 18 months in the sector as a result of the bear market in bonds. Fundamentals will eventually override interest-rate worries in these stocks."

No bearishness in bonds today. The 30-year Treasury leapt 1 14/32 to 98 18/32, its yield easing to 6.23%. (For more on the fixed-income market, see today's

Bond Focus.)

The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

rose 1.6%.

The broad

S&P 500

lifted 17.51, or 1.2%, to 1441.75, while the small-cap

Russell 2000

popped 5.10, or 1%, to a record 537.49.

Market breadth wasn't gangbusters on the upside, but it did finish positive on big volume.

New York Stock Exchange

advancers topped decliners 1,590 to 1,413 on 1.059 billion shares, with 131 new 52-week highs outpacing 123 new lows. On the Nasdaq, 2,381 advancers beat 1,832 decliners on 1.963 billion shares, the second-highest volume in Nasdaq history. New highs led new lows 383 to 71.

Among other indices, the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

rose 10.59, or 0.4%, to 2582.80; the

Dow Jones Utility Average

gained 4.40, or 1.4%, to 311.31; and the

American Stock Exchange Composite Index

edged up 1.26 to 885.34.

For a look at today's top stocks in the news, see the Company Report, published separately.