Stocks fluctuate but hold steady
AP Business WriterNEW YORK (AP) -- Stock prices fluctuated but showed signs of stability Tuesday as investors looked for bargains after last week's precipitous drop.
The major indexes closed modestly higher, withstanding several waves of profit-taking from Monday's big rally. Analysts were generally pleased with Wall Street's performance and noted that just holding steady is good news, given stocks' recent volatility.
"We're still seeing buying and that's a step in the right direction," said Bryan Piskorowski, market commentator at Prudential Securities.
According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 56.11 to 8,659.97, bringing its two-day advance to more than 424 points. Last week, the blue-chip index lost a record 1,369 points.
The Nasdaq composite index rose 2.15 to 1,501.55, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 8.72 to 1,012.17.
The market calmly handled a Conference Board report showing closely watched consumer confidence this month was at its lowest level since January 1996, falling to 97.6 this month from 114 in August. The numbers are closely watched because consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the economy.
Analysts hesitated to attribute much to the market's reaction to the data, saying the results weren't surprising in view of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and already weak economy.
They said the bigger concern for the market is still weak corporate profits, which show few signs of improving.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 1.5 percent. Germany's DAX index was up 0.4 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 was up 1.1 percent, and France's CAC-40 was up 1.1 percent.
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