Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Stock Barometers Rise on Positive Outlook from Federal Reserve

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Stock Barometers Rise on Positive Outlook from Federal Reserve

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Federal Reserve gave Wall Street Wednesday the positive economic outlook investors have been seeking, and stocks rallied even though the central bank declined to lower interest rates again.

Investors have been anxiously awaiting word that the recession has ended, and a Fed statement that "economic activity is beginning to firm" brought buyers back into the market. The market's upturn contrasted with lackluster trading earlier Wednesday and with a big selloff Tuesday, when investors ditched shares on concerns about companies' accounting practices.

"The Fed indicated there are signs of improving economic activity. The comment was made that while we are not yet out of the woods, the recession could be shallow," said Alan Ackerman, executive vice president of Fahnestock & Co. "There is a sense of buying opportunity here."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 144.62, or 1.5 percent, at 9,762.86. Analysts said bargain hunting was also a big contributor to the market's advance. The Dow tumbled 247.51 on Tuesday amid investors' worries about companies accounting practices, concerns that have festered following the collapse of Enron last month. The broader market also finished higher, after trading lower for most of Wednesday. The Nasdaq Composite index recovered from an earlier loss and rose 20.45, or 1.1 percent, to 1,913.44 following Tuesday's 50-point drop. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 12.93, or 1.2 percent, to 1,113.57 after falling 32 Tuesday.

Until the Fed's midafternoon announcement, investors were uninspired by an uptick in the economy, which grew at a 0.2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, according to the Commerce Department. The increase could mean economists will consider the recession to have ended late last year or early in 2002.

The Fed, which cut rates 11 times last year and down to their lowest level in four decades, was expected to leave rates unchanged. Investors were more concerned about what the Fed would say about the condition of the economy, and so it was the assessment of the economy that lifted stocks broadly. …

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