Originally created 09/30/05

Investor optimism sends stocks higher



NEW YORK - Stocks rallied strongly Thursday as investors grew more confident about the prospects for the economy despite the impact of hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

While many of the hurricanes' long-term effects have yet to be determined, stocks rebounded after two weeks of losses on bullish comments from analysts and the government. However, the markets remain relatively unchanged for the month, and trading was very light.

In addition, the market's gains might be short-term, as investors wait for new economic data that will give Wall Street a better feel for the storms' effects on employment, consumer demand and industrial production. Next month's third-quarter earnings also will be an important barometer of the economy's health.

"It's a trading rally, and not much more than that," said Hugh Johnson, the chairman and chief investment officer of Johnson Illington Advisors. "If there's anything you can hang your hat on, it's that with every passing day, some investors become convinced that there's not going to be any serious fallout or damage to the economy or earnings due to the hurricanes."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 79.69, or 0.76 percent, to 10,552.78 on Thursday.

Broader stock indicators also were higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 10.79, or 0.89 percent, to 1,227.68, and the Nasdaq composite index climbed 25.82, or 1.22 percent, to 2,141.22.

Oil prices rose for a second straight session. A barrel of light crude was quoted at $66.79, up 44 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Bonds fell, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rising to 4.29 percent from 4.26 percent.