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Fed minutes spark late-day rally
Central bank perks up the market by signaling an end to rate hikes may be in sight; bonds rise.
November 22, 2005: 6:03 PM EST

NEW YORK ( - Stocks closed higher Tuesday, mounting an afternoon comeback for the third straight session, as investors ignored rising oil prices and instead latched onto words from the Federal Reserve indicating an end to interest rate hikes.

The Dow Jones industrial average (up 51.15 to 10,871.43, Charts), the S&P 500 (up 6.38 to 1,261.23, Charts) index and Nasdaq composite (up 11.89 to 2,253.56, Charts) all rose about 0.5 percent.

Stock futures were down around 5:30 PM ET Tuesday, pointing to a lower opening for stocks Wednesday.

Traders brushed off rising oil prices, which gained over $1 and kept a lid on stock prices for most of the day.

Investors will look for reports on jobless claims and consumer sentiment to move the market Wednesday.

Here's a look at boosted the market Tuesday.

Minutes from the Fed's Nov. 1 meeting indicted that the central bank may soon have to change the wording on it's pace of interest rate hikes.

The bond market got a boost from the Fed's minutes while the dollar fell.

"Several aspects of the statement language would have to be changed before long, particularly those related to the characterization and outlook for policy," said the minutes from the Nov. 1 meeting posted on the Fed's Web site.

The Fed has long stuck to its policy of measured interest rate hikes, but investors have been watching for language that would signal an end to those hikes. Some people have feared that the Fed would raise interest rates too high, choking off cheap cash for business lending and sparking a recession.

An analyst said the change in Fed wording was important but not all that unexpected.

"It's the first time we've seen a change of verbiage in the last 10 meetings or so," said Art Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co. "We're now a couple of meetings ahead of when they'll stop tightening."

Hogan said the language tinkering will unlikely be a long-term plus for the market, which would instead take its cues from holiday sales and numbers on economic expansion.

The Treasury bond market also got a boost as some investors saw a possible end to the central bank's rate hikes. The yield on the 10-year note fell to 4.43 percent from 4.47 percent late Monday. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The Dow and S&P were down slightly before the minutes were posted while the Nasdaq was up about 0.2 percent.

U.S. light crude oil for January delivery rose $1.14 to $58.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Stocks in motion

Dow component GM once again canceled gains made by a fellow component, this time Intel.

General Motors (down $0.31 to $23.27, Research) lost another 1 percent after announcing Monday that it would cut about 30,000 jobs and will close or scale back about a dozen North American plants as part of a massive restructuring. GM was down nearly 3 percent earlier in the day.

Intel (Research) was the best Dow performer, rising more than 3 percent. The move up helped boost the Philadelphia semiconductor index 1.5 percent.

Among other movers, Cooper Companies (down $13.32 to $51.50, Research) slumped over 20 percent in active New York Stock Exchange trading after warning that fiscal fourth-quarter revenue and earnings would miss forecasts due to weak sales.

The contact lens and medical device maker also warned that fiscal 2006 and 2007 profits would fall short of forecasts due to manufacturing problems.

Market breadth was positive. On the New York Stock Exchange, winners beat losers four to three on volume of 1.68 billion shares. On the Nasdaq, advancers topped decliners eight to seven on volume of 1.89 billion shares.

Stocks have risen for more than four weeks. On Monday a modest extension of the rally pushed the Dow into positive territory for the first time in eight months and pushed the Nasdaq and S&P 500 to fresh four-and-a-half-year highs.

But with the approaching Thanksgiving holiday, one analyst said action is likely to be light.

"It's going to take a pretty interesting catalyst to get this market moving tomorrow or Friday," said Hogan, the Jefferies analyst.

Financial markets are closed Thursday and the stock market closes early Friday, at 1 p.m. ET. The Treasury bond market closes early both Wednesday and Friday.

The dollar sank versus the euro but was little changed on the yen.

COMEX gold gained $3.40 to $492.90 an ounce.

In global trade, major Asian and European markets ended little changed.  Top of page

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