Stocks Surge to Finish at Session Highs

A burst of buying sent the major indices soaring, with the Dow gaining more than 200 points and the Nasdaq up 3.1%.
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Stocks soared in a rally sparked by relief that Brazil let its currency float, while

Marketwatch.com

(MKTW)

made its trading debut, leaping 80, or 470.5%, to 97 1/2.

Marketwatch.com was priced last night by

BT Alex. Brown

at $17 a share.

TheStreet.com

wrote about Marketwatch.com

today.

All of the major market indices closed at or near their session highs. Today was also the monthly expiration of stock and index options.

The

Nasdaq Composite Index

led the market's major gauges on heavy volume. The Nasdaq Comp surged 71.39, or 3.1%, to 2348.21. Elsewhere, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

rallied 219.87, or 2.4%, to 9340.80.

The

S&P 500

rose 31.07, or 2.6%, to 1243.26. The

Russell 2000

advanced 6.94, or 1.7%, to 427.04.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index rose 11.69, or 2.4%, to 504.37.

In the Brazilian stock market, the

Bovespa

index jumped a whopping 33.4%.

Treasuries tumbled in a shortened trading session ahead of the

Martin Luther King Jr.

holiday Monday. The 30-year bond was down 26/32 to 102 4/32, yielding 5.11%.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, advancers pounded decliners 2,181 to 857 on 796.3 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, winners beat losers 2,618 to 1,493 on 1.001 billion shares. It was the eighth straight session in which more than a billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq.

On the NYSE, 39 issues set new 52-week lows while 15 touched new highs. On the Nasdaq, 98 issues set new highs while new lows totaled 41.

On the Big Board,

Cendant

(CD)

was most active with 15.7 million shares changing hands. It was up 1 1/4 to 20 3/4.

On the Nasdaq,

Data Broadcasting

(DBCC)

was most active on volume of 36.4 million. It was down 9 7/16, or 30.3%, to 21 3/4. Marketwatch.com is a joint venture of Data Broadcasting and

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

, which gained 13/16 to 34 15/16.

Market data above are preliminary. Updated numbers and analysis will follow in the Market Roundup

.

2:49 p.m.: Stocks Head Into Home Stretch with Rally Intact

News that Brazil let its currency float freely -- the possibility of which had weighed on the financial markets for some time -- sent stocks soaring in Sao Paulo and in the U.S., while Internet stock debutante

Marketwatch.com

(MKTW)

was up an astonishing 85 7/8, or 505.1%, to 102 7/8.

The 2.75 million-share IPO was priced top-range at $17 a share by BT Alex. Brown late yesterday.

TheStreet.com

wrote about Marketwatch.com

today.

The Brazilian

Bovespa

stock index was lately up a staggering 33.3%.

Meanwhile, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 131 to 9251. The

S&P 500

was up 20 to 1232, the

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 47 to 2324 and the

Russell 2000

was up 4 to 424.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was lately up 9 to 502.

The 30-year Treasury bond was down 26/32 to 102 4/32, yielding 5.11%. The bond market closed at 2 p.m. EST ahead of the

Martin Luther King Jr.

holiday Monday. Both the stock and bond markets will be closed.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

advancers were beating decliners 2,009 to 947 on 597 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

winners were beating losers 2,415 to 1,532 on 761 million shares.

On the NYSE, 33 issues had set new 52-week highs while 11 had touched new lows. On the Nasdaq, 80 issues had set new highs while new lows totaled 34.

On the Big Board,

Cendant

(CD)

was most active, with 10.9 million shares changing hands. It was up 11/16 to 20 3/16

On the Nasdaq,

Data Broadcasting

(DBCC)

was most active, with 30.2 million shares changing hands. It was down 6 13/16, or 21.9%, to 24 3/8. The above-mentioned Marketwatch.com is a joint venture of Data Broadcasting and

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

. CBS was up 5/8 to 34 3/4.

2:02 p.m.: Marketwatch.com Stands Out as Big Stock Rally Rolls On

Marketwatch.com

(MKTW)

, in keeping with the jaw-dropping debuts that Internet-type stocks have made famous, was flying in its trading premiere and was lately up a staggering 88 1/2, or 520.5%, to 105 1/2.

The 2.75 million-share IPO was priced top-range at $17 a share by

BT Alex. Brown

late yesterday. Marketwatch.com, publisher of the business news Web site

CBS MarketWatch

, is a joint venture between

Data Broadcasting

(DBCC)

and

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

. Data Broadcasting, the most active stock on the

Nasdaq Stock Market

on volume of 27.9 million shares, was lately down 6 1/4, or 20.1%, to 24 7/8. CBS was up 9/16 to 34 11/16.

TheStreet.com

wrote about Marketwatch.com

today.

As for the rest of the market's major gauges, they were all sharply higher.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 137 to 9258. The

S&P 500

was up 20 to 1232. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 44 to 2321. The

Russell 2000

was up 4 to 424.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 6 to 499.

The 30-year Treasury bond was down 24/32 to 102 6/32, yielding 5.11%. The bond market closes at 2 p.m. EST, ahead of the

Martin Luther King Jr.

holiday Monday. Both the stock and bond markets will be closed.

After being pounded recently on news out of Brazil, today, stocks there soared as stocks here rose rebounded also. Today, Brazil allowed its currency to float.

In the news, noted Wall Street strategist Abby Joseph Cohen of

Goldman Sachs

, in response to an audience question at a gathering in San Jose, Calif., suggested the reaction to the situation in Brazil might be overblown.

She said the U.S. does just 1.7% of its trade with Brazil, so "let's put that in perspective." Also, she said banks' exposure has fallen to 1/5 to 1/10 of what it was five years ago.

The superbull also reiterated her optimistic outlook on the U.S. economy and the stock market.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, advancers were beating decliners 2,006 to 876 on 524 million shares. On the Nasdaq, winners were beating losers 2,341 to 1,498 on 670 million shares.

On the NYSE, 30 issues had set new 52-week highs while 11 had touched new lows. On the Nasdaq, 76 issues had set new highs while new lows totaled 34.

On the Big Board,

Pharmacia & Upjohn

(PNU)

was most active, with 10.3 million shares changing hands. It was up 1/4 to 55 7/16. The Swedish government sold its 31.1 million-share stake in Pharmacia & Upjohn for $55 a share.

Sector Focus: Paper

Paper product stocks were surging along with the rest of the market today. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Forest & Paper Products Index

was lately up 2.1%.

Today,

Consolidated Papers

(CDP)

reported its annual and quarterly financial results which it said were disappointing due to declining prices for many of its coated and supercalendered printing papers.

The company reported fourth-quarter earnings of 21 cents a share, beating the 12-analyst

First Call

view of 15 cents, but down nearly 48% from the year-ago 40 cents. The discouraging full-year and quarterly results were blamed on global overcapacity and the continued influx of lower-priced printing paper imports.

Consolidated lately was up 11/16 to 25 7/8.

Earlier this week, industry titan

International Paper

reported fourth-quarter earnings of 21 cents a share, before special items, beating the First Call 13-analyst estimate of 11 cents a share, but down from the year-earlier 38 cents. It was lately up 3/8 to 44 1/2.

12:54 p.m.: Midday Musings: International Worries Fade as Stocks Rally Hard

11:55 a.m.: Stocks Continue to Cruise at Noontime

Stocks were broadly higher late this morning as the market retraces some of the losses it has suffered in recent sessions.

Meanwhile, market watchers are waiting to see how

Marketwatch.com

(MKTW:Nasdaq) fares in its first day of trading. The stock has yet to open. The 2.75 million-share IPO was priced top-range at $17 a share by

BT Alex. Brown

yesterday. Marketwatch.com, publisher of the business news Web site

CBS MarketWatch

, is a joint venture between

Data Broadcasting

(DBCC)

and

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

.

Internet stocks overall were higher but the gains were modest, at least by Internet stock standards.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 15 to 507.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 124 to 9245. The

S&P 500

was up 18 to 1231. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 45 to 2321. The

Russell 2000

was up 3 to 424.

The 30-year Treasury bond was lately down 30/32 to 102, yielding 5.12%.

Stocks rallied on news that Brazil let its currency float, which sent stocks in Brazil flying.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, advancers were beating decliners 1,886 to 839 on 343 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

winners were beating losers 2,046 to 1,360 on 430 million shares.

On the NYSE, 25 issues had set new 52-week highs while 10 had touched new lows. On the Nasdaq, 63 issues had set new highs while new lows totaled 27.

On the Big Board,

Pharmacia & Upjohn

(PNU)

was most active, with 9.4 million shares changing hands. It was up 1/2 to 55 11/16. The Swedish government sold its 31.1 million-share stake in Pharmacia & Upjohn for $55 a share.

On the Nasdaq,

Platinum Technology

(PLAT) - Get Report

was most active on volume of 15.4 million shares. It was down 5 11/16, or 30.3%, to 13 1/8 after warning late yesterday of disappointing fourth-quarter results.

Tech Focus

Among the major tech indices, the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Computer Box Maker Index

was up 1.7%, the

Morgan Stanley High-Tech 35

was up 2.7% and the

Nasdaq 100

was up 2.3%. The

Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index

was up 1%.

@Home

(ATHM) - Get Report

and

RealNetworks

(RNWK) - Get Report

released plans for a system to improve the quality of videos sent through cyberspace.

In the Internet analysts' world,

Warburg Dillon Read

initiated coverage of

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

,

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

,

Beyond.com

(BYND) - Get Report

and

Onsale

(ONSL)

, all with hold ratings.

In the Newsletters

Dragon Systems

(DRGN:Nasdaq) has expanded its relationship with

America Online

(AOL)

, which plans to market speech-recognition products and services to bring more users to the Internet via AOL, according to a story on

Computer Retail Week's

Web site. Dragon officials said the first speech-aware capabilities will debut this year, according to the article. Last spring, Dragon reached a deal with AOL that allows AOL to sell

Dragon Point & Speak

, an entry-level, continuous-dictation product that is compatible with AOL's email, Internet chat rooms and instant messenger, the article said.

Dragon Systems is scheduled to go public later this month.

10:55 a.m.: Stocks Jump to Session Highs

Stocks were near their session highs after Brazil allowed its currency to float, sending stocks in Brazil sharply higher.

The

Nasdaq Composite Index

lately was up 36 to 2313. Elsewhere, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 120 to 9241. The

S&P 500

was up 17 to 1229.

The small-cap

Russell 2000

was up 3 to 423. Internet stocks were solidly higher, with the

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index up 16 to 509. Eagerly awaited IPO

Marketwatch.com

(MKTW:Nasdaq), priced last night at $17 a share, hadn't yet opened but was seen coming out at a huge premium.

The

Bovespa

stock index in Brazil was up 24.5%.

The 30-year Treasury bond was lately down 27/32 to 102 3/32, yielding 5.11%.

Dave Mead, chief investment officer at

Harris Bank

in Chicago, said that while the situation in Brazil is important, more important are the

Federal Reserve

and corporate earnings. He sees the Fed continuing to ease interest rates this year.

Right now in the stock market, Mead said, "you've got a market that's richly priced" which "makes it vulnerable to nervousness."

Mead sees corporate earnings becoming a problem this year. For S&P 500 companies, there's a "good chance you could see lower profits this year," he said. With stocks trading at high price-to-earnings multiples, unless there's excess liquidity to fill that gap, he said the market will suffer a correction at some point.

As for the

Senate

impeachment trial of

President Clinton

, Mead said: "Washington's a sideshow."

Market breadth was decidedly positive. On the

New York Stock Exchange

, advancers were beating decliners 1,788 to 768 on 241 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, winners were beating losers 1,866 to 1,171 on 290 million shares.

On the NYSE, 19 issues had set new 52-week highs while 9 had touched new lows. On the Nasdaq, 51 issues had set new highs while new lows totaled 18.

On the Big Board,

Pharmacia & Upjohn

(PNU)

was most active, with 8.1 million shares changing hands. It was up 7/16 to 55 5/8. The Swedish government sold its 31.1 million-share stake in Pharmacia & Upjohn for $55 a share.

On the Nasdaq,

Platinum Technology

(PLAT) - Get Report

was most active on volume of 13.3 million shares. It was lately down 5 3/4, or 30.7%, to 13 1/16 after warning late yesterday of disappointing fourth-quarter results.

9:51 a.m.: Stocks Enjoy Solid Rise from the Bell

The major stock market gauges were higher early on after Brazil allowed its currency to float freely, sending stocks in Sao Paulo skyrocketing.

Brazil's

Bovespa

stock index lately was up 19.1%.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 55 to 9176.28. The

S&P 500

was up 11 to 1223. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 28 to 2305, while the

Russell 2000

was up 1 to 421.

TheStreet.com Internet Sector

index was up 17 to 510.

The 30-year Treasury bond was lately down 31/32 to 101 31/32, yielding 5.12%. The bond market will close early today ahead of the

Martin Luther King Jr.

holiday Monday.

Most Up at Open -- NYSE

Telebras (TBH) , up 6 1/4 to 60 3/8

.

Most Up at Open -- Nasdaq

@Home (ATHM) - Get Report, up 6 3/8 to 109

: @Home and

RealNetworks

(RNWK) - Get Report

said they will develop a broadband media platform.

Most Down at Open -- NYSE

Indonesian Satellite (IIT) , down 1 to 11 1/2

.

Most Down at Open -- Nasdaq

Rambus (RMBS) - Get Report, down 16 1/2 to 81 1/2

: The computer memory chip design concern posted first-quarter earnings of 8 cents a share, in line with the five-analyst

First Call

estimate and above the year-ago 6 cents. But the company warned that the next two quarters may be flat with the first quarter due to a seasonal decline in royalties from shipments of integrated circuits for use in

Nintendo 64

video games.