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Earnings reports give stocks a lift Dow rises 85.22; S&P; 500 climbs 18.04; American Express, FDX lead way; Wall Street


NEW YORK -- Most U.S. stocks rose yesterday, as unexpectedly good earnings news pulled investors' attention away from the U.S.-led attack on Iraq and impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.

Financial and computer-related shares led the gains after Chase Manhattan Corp. gave an optimistic profit outlook, and Adobe Systems Inc. said earnings beat estimates.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 85.22, or 1 percent, to 8,875.82. American Express Co. accounted for one-quarter of the advance.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 18.04, or 1.6 percent, to 1,179.98. Companies from Federal Express parent FDX Corp. to cruise-line company Carnival Corp. rallied after reporting surprisingly strong profits.

The Nasdaq composite index jumped 34.52, or 1.7 percent, to 2,043.88.

Elsewhere on the broad market, the Russell 2,000 index of

small-capitalization stocks rose 3.93, to 393.78; the Wilshire 5,000 index added 138.85, to 10,731.68; and the S&P; 400 midcap index added 5.42, to 353.37.

The Sun-Bloomberg Maryland index of the top 100 Maryland stocks gained 1.89, to 194.29.

The American Stock Exchange composite index lost 1.01, to 650.43.

Seventeen stocks gained for every 13 that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. About 739 million shares changed hands, in line with the daily average of 740 million over the past three months.

Adobe, the top maker of desktop-graphics software, jumped $5.7344, to $43.875, after the company said its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings beat analysts' expectations. A new version of its Illustrator software helped boost sales.

Chase jumped $6.375, to $69.875. The second-largest U.S. bank said it expects fourth-quarter earnings to exceed analysts' estimates because of strong derivatives and currency trading and a surge in loans.

Citigroup Inc. rose $2.375, to $50; American Express climbed $5.125, to $98.625, and BankAmerica Corp. added $4.375, to $60.25.

Chevron Corp. fell $1.50, to $82.625, and Exxon Corp., the largest U.S. oil company, lost 68.75 cents, to $74.875. Cooper Cameron Corp., which makes equipment for oil and gas drilling, slumped $2.625, to $23.75.

Continental Airlines Inc. Class B shares surged $3.0625, to $32.875, and Delta Air Lines Inc. jumped $2.8125, to $49.75.

Intel Corp. gained $2.75, to $116.875, and disk-drive maker Seagate Technology Inc. rose $1.75, to $32.625.

Among computer-networking equipment makers, Cisco Systems Inc. climbed $2.1875, to $84.875, and Ascend Communications Inc. gained $2.8125, to $60.8125.

Micron Technology Inc. surged $6, to $52.875, after analyst Daniel Niles of BancBoston Robertson Stephens said he expects the stock to rise to $200 by the end of 2001. Rebounding demand and flagging competition will help the second-largest maker of computer-memory chips return to profitability, Niles said.

CMG Information Services Inc. soared $10.875, to $91.375, after the company said it will split its stock 2-for-1 and said it closed its third venture fund. CMG, up 38 percent since Monday and 504 percent for the year, invests in closely held Internet companies with the goal of taking the companies public or selling them to other investors.

Online bookseller Amazon.com Inc. dropped $12.25, to $276.75, after Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst Jonathan Cohen said the stock could fall to $50. The stock soared 19 percent Wednesday after CIBC Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Henry Blodget said Amazon.com could rise to $400 in 12 months.

Rival Books-A-Million Inc. fell $2.8125, to $15.3125. Books-A-Million was the most active stock in U.S. trading, with 15.86 million shares changing hands.

FDX, the parent of delivery company Federal Express Corp., rose $4.3125, to $76.3125. The company said it earned $1.23 a share in the second quarter that ended Nov. 30, up from $1 in the 1997 quarter and above the $1.06 average estimate of analysts polled by First Call Corp.

Carnival rose $2.8125, to $39.6875, after the world's largest cruise ship operator said it earned 37 cents a share in the fourth quarter, beating the average analyst estimate of 33 cents.

Darden Restaurants Inc. gained 56.25 cents, to $18.375, after the operator of Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants reported second-quarter earnings of 11 cents a share, beating the 10-cent average estimate.

The company also said it's buying back as many as 13.8 million shares, or 10 percent of its stock.

Pub Date: 12/18/98

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