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Dow finishes above 10,000 for first time in more than a month
AP Business WriterNEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street stalled in lackluster trading Thursday as investors collected profits from the market's latest advance, but the Dow Jones industrials managed to close just above 10,000 for the first time in more than a month.
The Dow's gain was tentative, with the index hovering just below 10,000 moments before the close. Analysts said cautious investors were afraid they would risk losing newly earned profits should stocks follow their recent pattern of falling back.
The Dow closed up 12.32, or 0.1 percent, at 10,001.99, according to preliminary calculations, adding to a 364-point gain over the previous four sessions. The Dow last finished above 10,000 on Jan. 10.
Broader stock indicators fell. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 2.03, or 0.2 percent, at 1,116.48, and the Nasdaq composite index lost 15.79, or 0.9 percent, to 1,843.37.
"We can easily go above 10,000, even 10,100. But can we stay above that? That's another question and I have my doubts," said Richard A. Dickson, technical analyst at Hilliard Lyons.
After weeks of losses, stocks have been rebounding in recent days, with the Dow scoring triple-digit gains three of the last five sessions. Reaching 10,000 is a psychologically important milestone, because many investors correlate that level with a healthy market.
Skeptics, however, question the durability of the advance. They note there is still no consensus as to when a recovery is going to come and how robust it will be. The Enron debacle has also made investors less trusting of corporate bookkeeping, and cognizant that other companies might be vulnerable to similar scandals.
Hewlett-Packard fell 10 cents to $20.88, despite reporting late Wednesday that first-quarter profits more than tripled because of aggressive cuts in overhead and strong computer and printer sales to consumers.
Other tech stocks fared better, including Compaq, the company Hewlett-Packard hopes to merge with. Its stock gained 7 cents to $11.47.
Retailers and financial institutions, which benefit from consumer spending, got a boost. Home Depot advanced 31 cents to $51.55, while American Express rose 57 cents at $34.58. But pharmaceuticals, a popular choice when investors are feeling less certain about the economy, fell back. Merck lost 89 cents to $59.69.
Also Thursday, the Labor Department said new claims for unemployment insurance dipped for the second week in a row to a level suggesting companies might be laying off fewer workers.
The Dow has come close to 10,000 recently but retreated. Its difficulty in moving past that milestone isn't surprising given the market's recent behavior. And trading volume has been low, suggesting many investors still aren't participating in the market and that there might be little support for the rally.
"We've had a fairly strong run on the markets, so I'd guess there's some short-term profit-taking going on here," said Bill Barker, investment strategy consultant at RBC Dain Rauscher. "This shouldn't be anything major, though. I think the market overall is doing fine."
Declining issues narrowly led advancers on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 1.25 billion shares, compared with 1.20 billion shares Wednesday.
The Russell 2000 index slipped 5.58 to 470.75.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average advanced 1.1 percent. In Europe, Germany's DAX index rose 0.8 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 climbed 1.1 percent, and France's CAC-40 gained 1.5 percent.
On the Net:
New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com
Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com