Stocks End Mostly Higher

The Dow and Nasdaq post gains after a choppy trading session.
Author:
Publish date:

Updated from 4:06 p.m. EST

Stocks ended mostly higher in choppy trading on Wednesday, as investors digested news that Iraq had agreed to terms of unconditional weapons inspections outlined in a United Nations resolution.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

closed up 12.5 points, or 0.2%, at 8398, having traded in a 200-point range during the session. The

Nasdaq

finished ahead 12 points, or 0.9%, at 1361.3, while the

S&P 500

ended lower by 0.4 points, or 0.1%, at 882.5.

Iraqi Ambassador Mohammed al-Douri delivered an acceptance letter Wednesday to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Despite the agreement, investors still were rattled by uncertainty about a war. "No one really knows what kind of read to take on Iraq," said Michael Driscoll, a trader at Bear Stearns. "It is tough to make an investment decision until you figure out if we are going to engage in war."

Driscoll added that stocks' volatility reflected enduring uneasiness about the fundamental outlook. "Sentiment is still very much up in the air," he said. "The market cannot figure out which way to go."

Stocks were down earlier in the day, as investors absorbed testimony from

Federal Reserve

Chairman Alan Greenspan, who defended last week's half-point rate cut on grounds that the economy needed the liquidity. Greenspan repeated the Federal Open Market Committee's justification for the greater-than-expected cut in prepared testimony, and then described the risk of deflation as "extraordinarily remote" in reply to a question.

Meanwhile, the investigation into analysts' conflicts of interest on Wall Street garnered attention.

Former Salomon telecom analyst Jack Grubman issued a release Wednesday morning saying he lied when he claimed

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

Chief Executive Sandy Weill pressured him to upgrade shares of

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

in 1999. Grubman was responding to a media report that cited emails he sent in 2001 claiming Weill wanted the upgrade to curry favor with AT&T Chairman Michael Armstrong, whose support he was supposedly seeking in a boardroom power struggle. Citigroup issued its own release calling the emails nonsense.

Shares of Citigroup fell $1.39, or 3.8%, at $35, making them the biggest loser on the Dow.

In corporate news Wednesday,

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

posted a 23% increase in third-quarter earnings, as frugal consumers continued to flock to the discounter. The company also backed estimates for the current quarter. The shares climbed 2.1% at $54.98.

Federated

(FD)

earned 38 cents a share in the third quarter, a penny better than estimates, and rose 2.6% at $30.55.

Shares of

Tiffany

(TIF) - Get Report

ended up 7.1% at $26.59, after the company said it earned 19 cents a share in the quarter, also a penny beat.

And

Anheuser Busch

(BUD) - Get Report

gained 2.1% at $49.48 after it affirmed 2002 and 2003 earnings estimates.

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

dropped 4% at $20.66 on news that it received two more grand jury subpoenas related to its sales and marketing practices.

Overseas, London's FTSE 100 fell 1.4% to 4029, and Germany's Xetra DAX lost 1.6% to 3066.4. Japan's Nikkei fell 0.3% to 8439, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was little changed at 9617.

Treasuries were higher, with the 10-year note rising 2/32 to push its yield down to 3.84%.

Tuesday's market was dominated by tech shares, with the Nasdaq adding 2.3% to 1350, while the Dow, weighed down by weakness in

Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Report

after it said it couldn't confirm 2003 estimates, added a more modest 0.3% to 8386.