Dow Eclipses All-Time High As Tech, Telecom Bounce
It was a record day for stocks as every sector finished the day in positive territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at an all-time high while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 were boosted by strength in tech shares.
"The market just seems to be shrugging off any bad news, we're seeing broad strength across the board," said Bear Stearns trader Bill Nichols. "The market as a whole has acted very well and the pullbacks have been very slight even with mixed data."
Telecom saw the largest sector gains today as the group continued their recent rally. AT&T rose on strong results announced for wireless unit Cingular.
Technology shares also logged a solid gain and were lifted by positive reports from Yahoo and Sun Microsystems.
About one-quarter of companies in the S&P 500 index -- which closed today's session at its highest level in six years -- have already reported quarterly earnings. On average, earnings have come in about 4.8% above expectations, according to data culled by Thomson Financial.
The energy sector ended positive as oil pulled up from session lows. Crude futures bounced off of a sharp drop to rise higher in a choppy trading session.
"On one side,we finally have the arrival of winter weather and geopolitical forces and on the other side we have higher inventories and a lack of credibility in OPEC cutting production," a trader with Fimat told CNBC.com. "These factors are offsetting each other, so we're trading in a range between $50 and $55 a barrel."
Shares of Yahoo! rose, with investors shrugging off a sharp drop in fourth-quarter profit and excited by the Web portal's plans to launch its new Web search advertising system.
And Sun Microsystems climbed as the company beat fourth-quarter operating profit forecasts. Those results offset lower revenue guidance from chip maker Advanced Micro Devices , which suffered a daily decline wider than 8% in heavy trading.
"You're seeing movement in the markets now based on the individual numbers," Warren Meyers, a trader with Walter J. Dowd, told CNBC. "If you happen to have two or three good upside surprises in a given day, it pushes the market up. The reverse is also true--with a couple of downside surprises, it goes down."
Financial stocks gained with new highs for Goldman Sachs , Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley .
Corning posted higher-than-expected earnings per share for the fourth quarter. The stock rose after the company said earnings were boosted by demand for flat-screen TVs.
Shares of Seagate Technology were higher after the hard-drive maker issued positive guidance. Looking to the third (March) quarter, the company expects to return a profit ranging from 56 to 60 cents a share versus the 54 cents that analysts were expecting. Needham raised its price target on Seagate to $34 from $31.
New York light crude futures rose back above $55 a barrel. Earlier in the session, oil dropped by more than $1 a barrel after the Energy Department said oil inventories rose last week by 700,000 barrels. Analysts were expecting a crude oil buildup, but a rise in gasoline supplies by 4 million barrels was sharply higher than expected. Analysts were also expecting a drop in distillates, which includes home heating oil. Instead, distillate inventories rose by 700,000 barrels.
The CEOs of US Airways and Delta Airlines testifiedbefore Congressional lawmakers who are concerned that a merger between the two companies will lead to wider consolidation, higher fares and reduced or lost service in certain areas. US Airways has made a $10.5 billion hostile bid for Delta. Douglas Parker, US Airways CEO, told CNBC's "Squawk Box' that mergers, such as the one his company is proposing, are a better alternative to bailouts.
"I've talked to Congress before about our industry's need for help, and things like asking for bailouts, we don't like doing," said Parker. "What we would much prefer to do is let the free market work and let us do some self-help. The best self-help measure since 2001 has been the merger of US Airways and America West."
Delta has so far rejected takeover attempts from US Airways and vowed to emerge from bankruptcy as a stand-alone company. Delta has until Feb. 1 to respond to the latest bid.
ConocoPhillips saidits fourth-quarter profit fell 13% due to weakness in its exploration, production, refining and chemicals businesses.
Dow component McDonald's said its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled. The fast-food giant reported earnings of $1 a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting 61 cents a share.