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8/25/2004
05:04 PM
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Lower Oil Prices, More Durable-Goods Orders Boost Stocks

The markets posted solid gains as crude prices dropped below $45 a barrel and orders for big-ticket items rose.

Stocks rallied Wednesday on news that oil prices fell to a two-week low and orders for big-ticket durable goods rose. Skyrocketing fuel prices that have pressured the market for weeks finally gave way--crude prices for October deliveries fell to $43.47, down $1.74 per barrel. The sell-off resulted from the recent rise in Iraqi oil exports and a government report showing U.S. gasoline supplies growing.

Reports from the Energy Department and the American Petroleum Institute show gasoline inventories are either stable or rising. Earlier, the Energy Department said gasoline inventories were unchanged at 205.7 million barrels for the week ended Aug. 20. The API reported a 1.5 million-barrel climb to 208.4 million barrels.

Investors were also pleased with the Commerce Department's report that orders for big-ticket durable goods--items that are expected to last at least three years--rose by 1.7% in July. Economists had expected a 1% rise. A second report from the Commerce Department said new home sales declined by 6.4% in July from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.13 million units. That's a sharper-than-expected decline.

The Nasdaq turned in its best performance in more than three weeks. The Nasdaq composite index rose 23.83 points, or 1.3%, to 1,860.72. The Nasdaq-100 tracking stock rose 49 cents, or 1.4%, to $34.57 as more than 87.8 million shares changed hands. The InformationWeek 100 rose 3.67 points, or 1.31%, to 283.46. The Dow Jones industrials rose 83.11 points, or 0.8%, to close at 10,181.74. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 8.77 points, or 0.8%, to 1,104.96.

See the full listing of all the companies in the InformationWeek 100 and the top 5 percentage winners and losers for the last closing here.

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