Stock prices headed higher, but that old Bill Clinton afterglow showed a little fade today as investors nervously awaited clues concerning the president's second-term agenda.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, down early in the day, rallied to gain 13.79 to 6219.82. That late bump into positive territory gave the blue-chip measure its 34th record of the year.
David Shulman, market strategist at Salomon Brothers, proclaimed the generally good mood on Wall Street the "Federalist Papers" rally. To be exact, Mr. Shulman alluded to Federalist Papers #48, a fiery call for separation of powers penned by James Madison.
"Wall Street loves this split government,'' said Mr. Shulman. "Let's face it, gridlock has been good for stocks and bonds.''
Mr. Shulman, however, frets that foreign policy issues could eventually snap the Monroe-like Era of Good Feeling in the stock market. In addition, a Nixonian redux for the Clinton White House could create a market flap.
So, what the heck, let's try to run with this president theme. Clinton became the first president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to get re-elected, and made his mark as a master of many things. Not unlike Minnesota Mining, which constantly re-invents itself. With a new deal every few years (Post Its, Tape, Sandpaper) 3M provides an interesting window into future economic moves. The stock rose 1/8 to 80, a new 52-week high.
Clinton also is the first two-time, non-majority vote getter to waddle through the White House since Woodrow Wilson. Wilson, a great international thinker, would have loved Merck, the maker of drugs distributed to many points across the land. Since the likelihood of a Hillary Clinton health reform committee reunion has diminished, Merck and other drugs have gained. Merck gained 1 + to 11 +.
In a Cleveland-esque way (As in Grover, not the muddy city), Novell inexplicably surged higher, gaining 2 + to 11 +.
There you go again, carped Intuit, watching its stock gained 2 7/8 to 36 + amid renewed takeover conjecture. The company has not hinted such a takeover is likely.
So, where's the beef? Maybe at Netscape. The browser buffs gained 1 1/8 to 54 +. Maybe there is hope for Silicon Valley after all.