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Archive for Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Stocks rise on economic optimism

July 6, 2005

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— An improving sales outlook at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sent stocks higher Tuesday as investors, also cheered by a jump in factory orders, looked past another uptick in the price of oil.

Wal-Mart raised its sales projection for June to the highest level since May 2004. That means "2 percent of the economy is coming out and saying their sales are better than forecast," said John Lynch, chief market analyst at Evergreen Investments. "That's the best news of the day."

Investors also latched on to the strongest increase in factory orders in 14 months. Although most of the gain reflected demand for airplanes and parts, the data also indicated that June orders may have been stronger than May.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 68.36, or 0.75 percent, to 10,371.80. Broader stock indicators were also higher.

Stocks may be helped by "a developing consensus on Wall Street that the market is poised to have a better second half of the year," said Tim Connors, chief investment officer for value equities at Delaware Investments in Philadelphia. Investors are predicting the end of the Federal Reserve's yearlong run of interest rate hikes and a move by international central banks to stop increasing interest rates, he said.

Wal-Mart's news was particularly comforting to Wall Street because the retailer and a number of other discounters had partly attributed sluggish sales gains to higher gas prices that limited consumers' ability to spend on non-necessities. The upbeat outlook allowed investors to shrug off oil's higher price.

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