Dazzling Dow
Benchmark index closes at another record high as earnings, outlook continue to impress; Wal-Mart, GM among day's big gainers.
By Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Wall Street broke into rally mode Monday on the latest round of solid corporate earnings and perhaps some speculative buying, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average up more than 100 points to another record close.

The 30-share Dow (up 114.54 to 12,116.91, Charts), the world's most widely watched stock market gauge, jumped nearly 1 percent.

The Dow set another record high Monday, closing above 12,100.

It's the Dow's tenth record close in the last fourteen sessions.

The broader S&P 500 (up 8.42 to 1,377.02, Charts) and the tech-laden Nasdaq (up 13.26 to 2,355.56, Charts) composite each closed up about 0.6 percent.

Corporate earnings continued Monday, and results were generally solid.

After the bell, the biotech company Amgen reported soaring profits that easily beat Wall Street estimates, and Amgen (Charts) shares rose 2 percent after hours.

Cell phone chip maker Texas Instruments (Charts) reported higher earnings but fell short on revenues, sending shares down almost 2 percent after hours.

In the morning, Ford (down $0.11 to $7.90, Charts) reported a loss of 62 cents a share for its third-quarter. It was the company's biggest loss in 14 years, but shares didn't suffer too much as it was in line with analysts' expectations.

It also may have benefited shares in one of Ford's primary rivals, General Motors. GM (up $1.85 to $35.19, Charts) shares jumped over 5 percent.

AT&T (up $0.27 to $34.71, Charts) profit spiked to 63 cents a share, beating analyst projections of 58 cents.

Wal-Mart said it's slowing its rate of growth in the U.S., planning to increase its capital expenditures by 2 to 4 percent next year versus the 15 to 20 percent rate this year.

Investors applauded the decision and sent Wal-Mart (up $1.91 to $51.28, Charts) shares up nearly 4 percent.

3M continued to gain, building on advances made last week when the company beat earnings estimates. 3M (up $1.62 to $80.09, Charts) shares rose 2 percent Monday.

"The consumer is still there and companies are having a strong earnings season," said Kim Caughey, an analyst at Fort Pitt, a Pittsburgh-based asset management company. "Very few companies have guided down. Things look strong."

American Express was one of the few disappointments. The financial services company beat estimates but still recorded a drop in quarterly profits on the spinoff of its advisory business. American Express (down $1.39 to $56.65, Charts) shares fell over 2 percent.

One analyst said Monday's push may not be entirely due to solid anything.

"It looks like someone is swapping out of fixed income and going into equities," said Todd Clark, director of stock trading at Nollenberger Capital Partners in San Francisco, noting how stocks initially opened lower and was then followed by a pop and an accompanying drop in bond prices. "They're no doubt trying to chase profits going into the fourth quarter."

Investors will look for earnings from Altria (Charts), DuPont (Charts), BellSouth (Charts) and Lockheed Martin (Charts), among others, to help move markets Tuesday.

Last week, earnings were mostly positive as well, pushing the Dow above the 12,000 mark for the first time ever.

But investors remain nervous as to whether the economy can handle a cooling period without slipping into recession, as well as about the ever-present threat of inflation.

Earnings period continues in full swing this week, with reports due from companies in varied sectors of the economy including autos, consumer goods, tech and energy.

The Federal Reserve also is set to meet this week, which could make investors jittery. Central bank policymakers are widely expected to hold interest rates steady at 5.25 percent when they meet Tuesday and Wednesday.

On the commodities front, Oil prices fell 52 cents to settle at $58.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange despite an announcement from Saudi Arabia that it would cut production.

Oil traders have strong doubts that the rest of OPEC will follow Saudi Arabia's lead and rein in production, regardless of what OPEC officially says.

COMEX gold fell $13.50 to settle at $582.90.

Treasury prices were lower, raising the yield on the benchmark 10-year note at the 4.83 percent.

In currency trading, the dollar rose against the euro and the yen.

Stocks in Asia rose, with Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei average closing at its highest level since May. European shares finished higher as well.

Market breadth was mixed. On the New York Stock Exchange, winners beat losers three to two on volume of 1.54 billion shares. On the Nasdaq market, advancers edged out decliners as 1.85 billion shares changed hands.


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