Dow closes over 11,000 for lst time in weeks

Rumors of settlement in Microsoft case help lead S&P 500 to record

Wall Street

March 24, 2000|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

A rally of technology and blue-chip stocks yesterday caused the Dow to close above 11,000 for the first time since Feb. 3, and propelled the Standard & Poor's 500 index to its third straight record.

The Dow industrial average advanced 253.16, or 2.33 percent, to 11,119.86, led by General Motors Corp. and International Paper Co.

Microsoft led major indexes higher as investors bet that the No. 1 software maker will settle its antitrust case with the government.

Cisco Systems Inc., the biggest maker of computer-networking equipment, soared after splitting its stock for the eighth time in as many years.

The S&P 500 climbed 26.71, or 1.78 percent, to a record 1527.35, led by Microsoft, General Electric Co. and Cisco.

The Nasdaq composite index climbed 75.86, or 1.56 percent, to 4940.61. More than three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

The major indexes' gains over the past week may have spurred some money managers to "window dress" their portfolios -- or buy the recent big gainers before investors scrutinize their performance at the quarter's end, according to Robert Bloom, chief investment officer for Friends, Ivory & Sime.

Bloom has recently added to holdings in Microsoft, Cisco, GE and Intel Corp.

About 1.1 billion shares traded on the Big Board, while 1.7 billion changed hands on the Nasdaq.

Elsewhere on the broad market, the Russell 2000 index, a benchmark of small-cap stocks, rose 2.60 to 573.69; the Wilshire 5000 index increased 212.98 to 14,734.25; the American Stock Exchange composite index advanced 6.16 to 1,036.40; the NYSE composite index climbed 9.07 to 652.31; and the S&P 400 midcap index added 2.45 to 496.78.

Running counter to the gains in most indexes, the Sun-Bloomberg Maryland index of the top 100 Maryland stocks slipped 0.72 to 292.48. With biotechnology shares falling generally, the index was pulled down by PE Corp.-Celera Genomics Group and Human Genome Sciences Inc. Celera Genomics fell $9.50 to $116. Human Genome Sciences Inc. fell $5.4375 to $100.

Microsoft, the largest company by market value, rose $8.625 to $111.875. The company and Justice Department intensified talks to settle the landmark antitrust case without breaking up the company.

Cisco, the second-biggest company, advanced $5.625 to $77.8125. Investors flocked to the shares, said Dan Cook, a money manager with StoneRidge Investment Partners.

With the 2-for-1 split taking effect yesterday, Cisco is more attainable for individual investors.

Optimism surrounding Microsoft spilled over to other computer-related companies, including No. 1 database-software maker Oracle Corp., which touched an all-time high, climbing $2.8125 to $86.875.

GE, the third-largest company, gained $9.125 to $160. The company, whose businesses range from the world's largest finance company to medical imaging machines, was raised to "buy" from "outperform" by analyst Robert Cornell at Lehman Brothers. Cornell said shares could reach 200 though he did not specify a time period.

GM surged $5.25 to $87. CNBC reported that News Corp., the media company controlled by Rupert Murdoch, was considering a bid for the world's largest automaker in which News would sell GM's auto and finance businesses and keep its Hughes Electronics Corp., which owns the DirecTV satellite television service.

News Corp. said the report was "entirely false and without merit." The company's U.S. shares fell $1.75 to $61.4375.

While the U.S. indexes were up, overseas indexes were off slightly. Japan's Nikkei stock average slipped 0.15 percent; Germany's Xetra DAX index dipped 1.33 percent; Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.23 percent; and France's CAC-40 lost 0.17 percent.

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