Originally created 04/28/01

Business briefs



Investors perk up, give Dow a boost

NEW YORK - Upbeat investors sent stock prices sharply higher Friday on news that the economy was stronger than expected in the first quarter. Blue chips benefited the most, rising more than 110 points to end their third straight week of triple-digit gains.

"The stock market is relieved that the world is not coming to an end," said Peter Canelo, U.S. investment strategist for Morgan Stanley.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 117.70 to close at 10,810.05, ending the week up 230.20.

The Nasdaq rose 40.86 to 2,075.74, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 18.55 to 1,253.07.

Analysts said the market was responding to the Commerce Department's report of a 2 percent rise in the nation's gross domestic product. The increase, at least double what many analysts were expecting, showed growth in consumer spending and housing construction along with a needed drop in inventories.

"The economy is healthier than many observers believed," said Alan Skrainka, chief market strategist at Edward Jones of St. Louis. "That shows that the medicine - the interest rate cuts that the Fed has made - have started to take effect."

The strides the economy made in the first quarter bode well for the rest of the year, Mr. Canelo said.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners nearly 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume was 1.09 billion shares, compared with 1.27 billion Thursday.

Metro Augusta's jobless rate rises

The unemployment rate in metro Augusta rose to 3.9 percent in March, up from 3.8 percent in February and well below the area's rate of 4.6 in March 2000.

The slight rise this March was attributed to layoffs in manufacturing and construction, a Georgia Department of Labor spokesman said. The area's unemployment rate in January also was 3.9 percent.

The Augusta metro area consists of Columbia, Richmond and Burke counties in Georgia and Aiken and Edgefield counties in South Carolina.