Led by sharp gains in oil stocks, the stock market recovered today from yesterday's losses as the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 11.40 points to close at its highest level in 17 months.
In tumultuous trading, the Dow industrials rose nearly past the 1,033 mark at one point and fell as low as 992, before closing at 1,015.08. On the New York Stock Exchange, 139.80 million shares were traded -- 14 million more than Tuesday -- marking the first time the NYSE has recorded five consecutive days of volume above 100 million shares.
The stock exchange action continued to demonstrate a marked shift away from many technology-oriented companies to petroleum, tire and rubber stocks, and the transportation index rose 12.14 points to 409.77.
"The leaders are going into a rest period and new things are coming along," said Lou Smith, a technical analyst with Bear, Stearns & Co. "The Dow and other blue chips may start to tread water a bit and that suggests a setback that could be swift for those stocks. While former leaders rested there was tremendous surge in a whole new area -- energy."
The oil move was largely prompted today by remarks by Saudi Oil Minister Yamani which suggested a "revival of the international oil market." As a result Exxon was up 7/8 to 31 5/8, Getty Oil up 2 1/2 to 62 1/2 and Atlantic Richfield up 2 1/2, closing at 49 1/4. Other beneficiaries included Allied Corp., up 1 3/8, DuPont, up 1 5/8, and companies in the oil service field. Dresser Industries was up 1 5/8 to 17 7/8 and Halliburton was up 3, closing at 31 3/4.
Today's broad gains lifted the Dow industrial average, the most closely watched barometer of market activity, to within 9 points of its highest mark since President Reagan took office, 1,016.93 on April 28, 1981.
The action has been so fierce at brokerage houses this week that there is considerable talk that the Dow will break its all-time high of 1,051.70 by Friday. "The bulls are running with their blinders on and the only thing they are seeing are the lower interest rates," said Jerry Hinkle, chief trader at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.
The activity lifted the prices of 1,337 stocks, while 399 declined. The New York exchange composite index rose to 78.30 up 1.35, with the average price per share rising 55 cents.
The American Stock Exchange market value index climbed 7.79 to 314.79, with airline and petroleum stocks leading the pack. Volume jumped sharply to 11.5 million shares, up from 9.3 million yesterday, as the average price per share rose 32 cents. Advancing issues outran decliners by more than three to one.
Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials rose 2.72 to 152.82, and S&P's 500-stock composite index was up 2.27 at 136.71. The NASDAQ composite index of over-the-counter stocks was up 3.01 to 205.17.