Stocks climb to more new highs Dow industrials rise 25 points to 8,775

oil shares are strong

Wall Street

March 19, 1998|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks rose to more records yesterday as rising crude oil prices boosted demand for petroleum producers and drilling companies.

Oil industry shares such as Exxon Corp. and Rowan Cos. gained as crude oil had its biggest rise since June 1996, after reaching a 10-year low Tuesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 25.41 to a record 8,775.40, overcoming a 43-point loss. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.07 to 1,085.52, another all-time high, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 8.98 to 1,788.28, also a record.

Other broad market indexes also set records. The Russell 2,000 index of small capitalization stocks rose 1.07 to 472.18; the Wilshire 5,000 index of stocks on the New York, American and Nasdaq exchanges climbed 50.12 to 10,342.89; the American Stock Exchange composite index gained 4.60 to 722.76, breaking the high of 721.90 it set Oct. 7; and the S&P 400 mid-cap index added 2.32 to 365.03. The New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 2.53 to a record 565.62.

The Bloomberg Maryland index, which tracks the top 100 stocks in Maryland by market valuation, rose 0.49 to 234.96, its ninth record in a row.

The Philadelphia oil service sector index rose 6 percent as crude climbed $1.13 to $14.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile TC Exchange. Exxon rose $1.6875 to $64.625, and Rowan, a driller, rose $1.9375 to $27.25.

Fifteen stocks rose for every 14 that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. About 632.7 million shares changed hands on the Big Board, down from yesterday's 675.28 million.

Merrill Lynch & Co., the biggest U.S. securities firm, led a rally in brokerage shares on speculation that it will be taken over by Chase Manhattan Corp. Merrill rose $7.25 to $87.25; Lehman Brothers Holding Inc. rose $2.625 to $72.9375; and Hambrecht & Quist Group rose $2.125 to $34.375. Chase rose $3.375 to $138.125.

Paper companies fell after several analysts lowered earnings estimates for International Paper Co., citing lower sales in Asia and lower prices from competing Asian producers. International Paper fell $1.75 to $50.

Airline shares fell on expectations that rising crude prices will push up fuel costs. AMR Corp., the parent of American Airlines, tumbled $2.9375 to $142 and Delta Air Lines Inc. fell $2.75 to $120.125.

Jabil Circuit Inc. slid $4.6875 to $34.7813 and Arrow Electronics Inc. fell $3 to $30.75 after the electronics companies warned that profits will suffer because of slowing sales and price-cutting.

J. P. Morgan & Co. fell for the first time in six days, dropping $2.25 to $133. The bank's debt rating was lowered by Standard & Poor's Corp. because earnings are becoming more volatile as it relies more on trading and investment banking for revenue. Lower ratings increase companies' borrowing costs because investors demand more interest to buy riskier bonds.

Medusa Corp. soared $6.625 to $58.875 after Southdown Inc. agreed to acquire the cement company for about $1 billion in stock, becoming the nation's No. 2 cement-maker during a boom in road and mass-transit construction. Southdown fell 93.75 cents to $68.625.

Metromail Corp. rose $2.6875 to $34.5625 after American Business Information Inc. said it offered $850 million in cash and assumed debt for the direct marketer. Metromail agreed last week to be bought by the United Kingdom's Great Universal Stores PLC.

Pub Date: 3/19/98

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