The Federal Reserve Board's decision to keep interest rates steady and a healthy consumer-confidence index hit the markets like a shot of B12 on Tuesday. Consumers seem encouraged by signals a that healthier job market is under way, and this, the Confidence Board said Tuesday, boosted the consumer-confidence index from 77 in September to 81.1 this month.
All that good feeling carried over to the stock markets. Technology issues posted their biggest gains since July as our InformationWeek 100 index rose a hefty 3.18%, or 9.23 points, to close at 299.89. The Nasdaq-100 tracking stock rose 3.4%, or $1.15, to $35.36, as nearly 103 million shares changed hands. The Nasdaq index rose 49.35 points, or 2.6%, to close at 1,932.26. The Dow industrials rose 140.15 points, or 1.5%, to 9,748.31, and the S&P 500 rose 15.66 points, or 1.5%, to end at 1,046.79.
The Fed's widely anticipated decision added momentum to a market already boosted by a recent spate of megadeals and news that the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics group raised its 2003 forecast for worldwide chip sales and predicted even stronger growth in 2004.
That forecast boosted microchip makers and associated companies. Shares of Applied Materials rose $1.83, or 8.8%, to $22.55. Altera's shares rose $1.43, or 7.8%, to $19.87, and Microchip Technology's price rose 12.5%, or $3.52, to $31.72.