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Falling Oil Prices Ease Pressure on Wall Street

From News Services
Saturday, April 30, 2005; Page E02

Stock markets advanced Friday as oil prices fell below $50 a barrel.

A barrel of light crude settled at $49.72, down $2.05, on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its lowest level since Feb. 18. Oil prices began the week above $55 a barrel.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 122.14, or 1.2 percent, to 10,192.51. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index was up 13.63, or 1.2 percent, at 1156.85, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 17.47, or 0.9 percent, to 1921.65.

Bonds dropped after Thursday's rally, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rising to 4.20 percent from 4.15 percent late Thursday. The dollar fell against most major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Despite the gains, the markets finished the week mixed, with the Dow up 0.34 percent, the S&P gaining 0.41 percent and the Nasdaq losing 0.55 percent.

In April, the Dow fell 2.96 percent, the S&P lost 2.01 percent and the Nasdaq was down 3.88 percent.

Microsoft gained 85 cents, to $25.30, as the software company doubled its quarterly profit from the comparable quarter a year earlier, though revenue fell short of Wall Street's expectations.

Online retailers led decliners, as Amazon.com shed 16 cents, to $32.36, Shopping.com dropped 23 cents, to $13.15, and online delivery service Provide Commerce fell 31.3 percent, or $8.03, to $17.65. The weakness spread to traditional retailers. Wal-Mart Stores fell to a new 52-week low during the session but closed 9 cents higher, at $47.14.

A report in the Daily Deal newspaper said Oracle was in takeover talks with Siebel Systems, another software developer. Siebel shares rose 41 cents, to $9, while Oracle fell 6 cents, to $11.56.

Sun Microsystems climbed 5.2 percent, or 18 cents, to $3.62 after a published report said the high-end computer company was discussing a leveraged buyout with private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.

MicroStrategy fell $13.52, or 24 percent, to $43.48 after the McLean-based software company said first-quarter sales missed analysts' estimates.

Other Indicators

• The New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 73.01, to 7008.32; the American Stock Exchange index rose 6.68, to 1439.49; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 4.36, to 579.38.

• Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by 2 to 1 on the NYSE, where trading volume rose to 1.88 billion shares, from 1.75 billion on Thursday. On the Nasdaq Stock Market, advances outnumbered declines by 3 to 2 and volume totaled 2.07 billion, up from 1.88 billion.

• The price of the Treasury's 10-year note fell $4.06 per $1,000 invested, and its yield rose to 4.20 percent, from 4.15 percent on Thursday.

• The dollar fell against the Japanese yen and rose against the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 104.83 yen, down from 105.99 late Thursday, and a euro bought $1.2863, down from $1.2895.

• Gold for current delivery rose to $435 a troy ounce, from $431.30 on Thursday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.

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