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Archive for Friday, August 11, 2006

Stocks up despite terror arrests

August 11, 2006

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— Wall Street withstood the news of a terror plot targeting commercial airlines, with stocks moving higher Thursday on strong corporate earnings reports and a sharp drop in oil prices.

European markets tumbled as British authorities said 24 people were arrested in a widespread plan to destroy numerous international flights, and the United States raised its terror alert to the highest levels ever for air travelers. But while U.S. and international airline stocks fell as a result, strong earnings reports from Dow component American International Group Inc. and others lent support to U.S. markets.

Wall Street also benefited from lower crude prices, which fell on the belief that reduced travel in the coming weeks and months would curtail demand for fuels. A barrel of light crude settled at $74, down $2.35, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

"With the whole issue of what's happening in London, we could have seen a major sell-off, but we didn't," said Stuart Freeman, chief equity strategist for A.G. Edwards & Sons. "All these things that have happened lately, with inflation and interest rates and oil, you'd think the market would have had a really difficult time with that. But there's some upside here."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48.19, or 0.44 percent, to 11,124.37.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 slid 0.63 percent, Germany's DAX index tumbled 1.26 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 0.97 percent.

Bonds edged higher in listless trading, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note falling to 4.93 percent from 4.94 percent late Wednesday. The dollar was mixed against most major currencies, while gold prices fell.

In economic news, the nation's trade deficit slipped 0.3 percent in June due to strong sales of U.S. products abroad, while first-time jobless claims edged higher last week. The trade data shows economic strength, which could spur inflation and higher interest rates, while the unemployment report shows a slowing economy, which ought to help reduce inflation risk. Such conflicting data has been a hallmark of the economy over the past few months, giving Wall Street little direction.

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