Dow finishes higher - but no 10,000 yet

Major indexes rose to the highest point in nearly a year on earnings optimism, but the market rally peters out late in the day.

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By Alexandra Twin, senior writer

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NEW YORK ( -- The Dow inched closer to the 10,000 level Monday, carving out a fresh one-year high despite a choppy day on Wall Street as strength in banks and commodities vied with weakness in technology.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) gained 20 points, or 0.2%, after rising as high as 9931.82 in the morning.

The S&P 500 (SPX) index gained nearly 5 points, or 0.4%, and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) was barely changed.

Stocks had posted bigger gains through the early afternoon but lost steam as the session wore on. Cisco (CSCO, Fortune 500), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500) and Dell (DELL, Fortune 500) were among the big tech decliners, while heavy-weight Dow stocks such as Boeing (BA, Fortune 500) and United Technologies (UTX, Fortune 500) also retreated.

The Dow is moving closer to 10,000, a key psychological level that could trigger a more aggressive wave of buying -- or a big selloff.

The Dow last crossed 10,000 on Oct. 7, 2008, when it briefly touched 10,124.03. The Dow last closed above 10,000 on Oct. 3, 2008, when it ended at 10,325.38.

Analysts say it could hit that point later this week, depending on how the third-quarter reporting period goes. In particular, investors are looking for another roundd of better-than-expected earnings and even some stabilization in revenue.

"We're likely to see continued improvement on the heels of the increases we saw in the second quarter," said Dan Genter, president and CEO at RNC Genter Capital Management.

He said that the results may not show topline growth yet, but they are likely to show that it is more than just cost cutting driving the broad profits recovery.

"Assuming the earnings story doesn't blow up, stocks should keep moving higher," he said.

Stocks have already seen a massive surge this year, with the S&P 500 spiking 58% through Friday's close after bottoming out at a 12-year low in March.

Despite repeated calls for a big 10% to 15% selloff, the market hasn't given up more than 5% without buyers rushing back in. Genter said the market is likely to continue to avoid a big selloff, as many people remain under invested, with plenty of cash on the sidelines and no better place to put in than in stocks.

Results: This week brings results from a number of market-moving companies, including Dow components Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), IBM (IBM, Fortune 500), Intel (INTC, Fortune 500), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Fortune 500) and General Electric (GE, Fortune 500).

Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), Nokia (NOK), Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) are among the other big names due to report.

Dow component Alcoa (AA, Fortune 500) started things off on a positive note last week, reporting earnings and revenue that were better than expected.

The aluminum maker's strong revenue results were especially notable, with investors focused on possible revenue growth after a quarter of little to none.

In the second quarter, there was little topline growth, and any improvement in earnings was driven mostly by cost cutting.

That trend could continue in the third quarter, but if Alcoa is an indication, some sectors and companies may see improvement. Year-over-year profits are expected to have fallen more than 20% from the third quarter of 2008.

World markets: Global markets were mixed. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 gained 0.9%, while France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX both gained 1.4%. Asian markets ended lower, with the Hong Kong Hang Seng down 0.9%. The Japanese Nikkei was closed for a holiday.

Currency and commodities: The dollar fell versus the euro and gained against the yen.

U.S. light crude oil for November delivery rose $1.50 to settle at $73.27 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

COMEX gold for December delivery rose $8.90 to settle at $1,057.50 an ounce, the fourth straight record high for the precious metal.

The bond market was closed for the Columbus Day holiday.

Market breadth was mixed. On the New York Stock Exchange, winners beat losers eight to seven on volume of 946 million shares. On the Nasdaq, advancers topped decliners seven to six on volume of 1.79 billion shares. To top of page

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