Final day is a corker as records are set

Stock indexes rise to new highs

Wall Street

January 01, 2000|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

NEW YORK -- U.S. stock indexes rose to records in the last session of 1999, after the first countries to greet 2000 reported no sign of disruption from the Y2K bug.

Qualcomm Inc., the biggest gainer of 1999, led the advance.

"This was a pop-the-champagne-cork rally at the end of a great year," said Michelle Clayman, chief investment officer of New Amsterdam Partners LLC. "There is relief that Y2K is coming and going without any problems."

The Nasdaq composite index rose 32.44, or 0.8 percent, to a record 4,069.31. The Nasdaq gained 86 percent in 1999, more than triple the gains of the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index. No other major U.S. index has ever had such a big rise in a year.

The Dow industrials rose 44.26, or 0.4 percent yesterday, to a record 11,497.12. Alcoa Inc., the average's biggest winner this year, contributed nearly one-third of the advance.

The S&P 500 climbed 4.78, or 0.3 percent, to a record 1,469.25.

The Russell 2000 index of small stocks finished the year at a record, rising 8.15 to 504.74, its first close above 500. The Russell rose 19.6 percent during the year, boosted by a surge in small computer-related companies and telecommunications stocks. It was the first year since 1993 that the Russell outperformed the S&P 500, up 19.5 percent for 1999.

Seven stocks rose for every three that fell on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, where floor traders, some in tuxedos, some nibbling pizza or potato chips, leaned against their posts and wished one another well for the new year.

"Truly a magnificent finish to a great century," said Victor Niederhoffer, an independent trader in Weston, Conn. A sudden drop and equally sudden rebound in S&P futures at the end of the session summed up the year, he said: "Fear turning to exultation, friction leading to profits for the strong -- all were encapped in the last 30 seconds."

Stock exchanges closed three hours early, at 1 p.m. About 374 million shares traded on the Big Board, about 43 percent of the three-month average. It was the second-lightest day of the year, according to preliminary estimates; only the day after Thanksgiving was quieter.

Indexes began the day in the red, then rallied at the close. The lighter-than-average volume exaggerated the swings, traders said.

For the week, the Dow average rose 0.8 percent; the S&P 500 gained 0.7 percent; and the Nasdaq composite jumped 2.5 percent.

The Nasdaq climbed nearly 22 percent this month, its best monthly performance in its 28-year history. The Dow average rose 5.7 percent, its best month since April, while the S&P 500 gained 5.8 percent.

The most actively traded stock was Qualcomm, up $14.50 to $176.25, bringing its gain for the year to 2,621 percent. The developer of the world's fastest-growing cell-phone technology split its stock 4-for-1 at the open.

Alcoa rose $2.4375 to $83. The aluminum company's shares are up 125 percent this year, making it the best performer in the Dow average.

CMGI Inc., an Internet venture fund, rose $8.0625 to $276.875 after agreeing to buy more than 80 percent of closely held Adtech Advertising Service Providing GmbH, a German online advertising company, to expand Web marketing to Europe. Terms were not disclosed.

Gateway Inc. rose $1.9375 to $72.0625 after selling its Amiga trademark and remaining Amiga computers to Amino Development Corp.

EchoStar Communications Corp. rose $5.875 to $97.50 after the satellite-television company said it terminated its proposed $23 million purchase of certain assets of SkyView Media Group, first announced Dec. 15.

U S West Inc., which is merging with Qwest Communications International Inc., rose $1.8125 to $72 after it sold about 65 percent of its interest in Global Crossing Ltd. to take advantage of the rise in Global Crossing's share price.

Global Crossing gained $2.1875 to $50.

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