Blue-chip stocks ended the week with a solid rally, although the prospect of an increase in interest rates next Tuesday kept many investors out of the market.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 136.77 today to close at 11,100.61. For the week, the Dow was up 126.96, or 1.2 percent.
Broader stock indicators were also higher. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 13.02, to 1336.61, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 26.90, to 2648.33.
Investors gravitated toward a handful of blue-chip stocks today, seeking safe bets before Tuesday's meeting of the Federal Reserve's policymaking committee. Many economists expect a quarter-percentage point increase in short-term interest rates.
An increase on Tuesday would be the Fed's second this year as the central bank works to prevent a resurgence of inflation. There are fears the Fed also might approve a third rate increase later this year.
Investors who did seek out stocks chose big, established companies. American Express led the Dow higher, gaining 4 3/8 to 142 7/8. Procter & Gamble rose 3 to 97 1/4, and Alcoa advanced 2 1/2, to 67-11/16.
"We had a segmented rally in a handful of Dow industrials," said Barry Hyman, senior equity analyst at Ehrenkrantz King Nussbaum. "I don't see participation elsewhere in the market."
While analysts said optimism about third-quarter earnings has begun lifting the market, investors punished a handful of companies that delivered bad news about their profit outlook.
Sprint sank 4-1/16, to 45, after several Wall Street analysts cut their earnings estimates for the phone company, saying they do not expect Sprint to meet earnings projections for fiscal years 1999 or 2000.
Dun & Bradstreet, the business-information services provider, fell 5-3/16, to 25 1/2, after saying it will miss third-quarter profit forecasts.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by about 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange, where trading volume totaled 661.3 million shares, down from 684.3 million on Thursday.
Despite the low volume, some traders bought heavily because today was a "double witching" day, with stock and index options expiring. Hyman said some of the market's gains came from traders working to balance their portfolios.