Stocks End Higher in Cautious Session

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks ended mostly higher in cautious trading Wednesday ahead of key inflation data, although the Dow Jones industrial average set its second consecutive record high.

The blue-chip average rose 15.65 points to 3,734.53, eclipsing its previous mark of 3,718.88 set Tuesday. Stocks sensitive to the economic cycles powered the Dow's advance following some good news on the economy.

Advancing issues narrowly outnumbered declines on the New York Stock Exchange.

Volume on the floor of the Big Board came to 312.48 million shares as of 4 p.m., up from 276.53 million in the previous session.

Stocks dragged for most of the session, gathering momentum on the upside only late in the day, apparently with the news on the economy from the Federal Reserve and with a turnaround in bond prices.

For much of Wednesday there had been little to inspire investors.

"It's a trendless, directionless market," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp.

Investors continued to resist significant commitments ahead of data today and Friday on November inflation, he said. The government is scheduled to release reports on producer and consumer prices.

"The data could create fireworks, and no one wants to be caught on the wrong side of the market if the fireworks begin," Johnson said.

As the economy has picked up there has been concern inflation could become an issue again. Besides a problem in itself, inflation brings the possibility the Federal Reserve will tighten credit. Higher interest rates would make stocks relatively less attractive and increase the cost of money to companies.

The concern about inflation pushed up stocks in gold-mining companies. …