Stocks rise to records for third day Prices jump on hopes of still lower interest rates

NEW YORK — NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks rose to records for a third day yesterday as the prospect of lower interest rates lifted banks, retailers and utilities.

A six-day rally in computer and semiconductor issues faltered, tempering the advance.


Unexpectedly strong earnings from Sears, Roebuck & Co. helped boost the Dow Jones industrial average to its 10th record this year. The 30-stock average rose 32.51 to 5,492.12. Much of the gain came in the last hour of trading. Computer-guided "buy" orders drove up the Dow 52 points during the day.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 3.60 to a record 649.93 as telephone, beverage, drug and retail stocks gained.


The Wilshire 5,000 index climbed 22.65 to 6,333.09; the Russell 2,000 index lost 0.74 to 319.41; and the American Stock Exchange market value index rose 2.63 to 562.59.

The Nasdaq composite index, which includes industry leaders Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp., fell 4.20 to 1,084.88, after reaching an all-time high Tuesday. Intel led the decline, falling $1.25 to $58.25.

Some 1,190 stocks rose and 1,161 fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 462.7 million shares changed hands, down from 465.92 million Tuesday.

Sears jumped $1.75 to $44.375 after reporting that profits from continuing operations jumped 28 percent in the fourth quarter.

It contributed almost five points to the Dow industrials' advance and led retail stocks higher.

United Technologies Corp. added $2.125 to $104.25; McDonald's Corp. climbed $1.625 to $53.25; Merck & Co. rose $1.625 to $69; and Aluminum Co. of America jumped $1 to $56.75.

PepsiCo Inc. surged $3.50 to $64.375 after its Frito-Lay Inc. unit bought four plants from rival Eagle Snacks, which was shut down by Anheuser-Busch Cos., down $2.625 to $68.75.

Semiconductor and computer stocks retreated after Montgomery Securities lowered its rating to "hold" from "buy" on Applied Materials Inc., Lam Research Corp., Novellus Systems Inc., KLA Instruments Corp., GaSonics International Corp., OnTrak Systems Inc. and Tencor Instruments.


Banks and utilities gained on hopes that interest rates will fall further.

NationsBank Corp. added $1 to $70.50; Citicorp rose $1.125 to $75.75; and Republic New York Corp. climbed $1.25 to $60.375.

Another harbinger of lower rates was a gain in the Dow Jones utilities average, up 1.26, or 0.55 percent, to 232.32.