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Dow Jones closes just above 12,000



Published: Fri, October 20, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The milestone came on the anniversary of Black Monday.

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Dow Jones industrial average scored its first close above 12,000 Thursday as Wall Street, showing its growing confidence despite new evidence of a weakening economy, managed to hold on to a slim advance.

The stock market's most prominent benchmark ended the day at 12,011.73, the ninth time in just over two weeks that the Dow has achieved a record high close. The record came one day after the index of 30 blue chip stocks made its first foray past 12,000.

The Dow's latest milestone came on the anniversary of Black Monday in 1987, when the Dow plunged 508 points and also suffered its second-biggest percentage drop in history. The Dow finished that day at 1,793.90, far from Thursday's record.

The finish above 12,000 was the latest sign that the stock market continues a cautious recovery from the losses and despair investors suffered in the early part of this decade. After peaking in early 2000, the Dow and other indexes fell precipitously amid the dot-com collapse, recession and the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Erratic trading

Still, trading was erratic Thursday, with the overall market struggling to sustain an advance after a pair of reports signaled the Federal Reserve might have a tougher time orchestrating a soft landing of the economy. Disappointing earnings in the technology sector also weighed on stocks.

The Conference Board's index of U.S. leading economic indicators rose less than forecast in September. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Fed's general economic index contracted for the first time since April 2003. The numbers rattled investors who had been sending stocks higher since September on optimism the Fed might even cut rates in early 2007.

At the close, the Dow rose 19.05, or 0.16 percent. On Wednesday, the Dow rose as high as 12,049.51, which stands as its trading high; the index then fell back below 12,000 as many investors turned conservative and decided to cash in some profits.

Broader stock indicators also advanced Thursday. The Standard & amp; Poor's 500 index rose 1.00 or 0.07 percent, to 1,366.96, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 3.79, or 0.16 percent, to 2,340.94.

Bonds fell, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rising to 4.79 percent from 4.76 percent late Wednesday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Oil prices rose ahead of OPEC's meeting to discuss a possible cut of 1 million barrels a day to prop up prices. A barrel of light sweet crude rose 85 cents to 58.50 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Many analysts, who use the S & amp;P 500 as their benchmark, shrugged off the Dow's move.

"There's a lot of fanfare about 12,000, but it's just another number," said David Darst, chief investment strategist for Morgan Stanley's global wealth management group. "The real story is that there is a river of liquidity that is flowing through the market. ... The 12,000 number is one more confirmation of that."

The Dow was able to stay above 12,000 despite uncertainty about the slew of third-quarter earnings reports that have yet to be released. Thursday's reports were mixed, but there was enough confidence in the market to sustain the advance.




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