Stocks closed higher today as a late rally lifted a market that had sputtered for much of the day because of worries about a sinking dollar and rising interest rates.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 43.06 points to close at 11,079.40.
Broader stock indicators also ended higher. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 3.51, to 1347.66, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 43.28, to 2852.02.
Internet and technology companies were the strongest performers in a relatively quiet market. IBM rose 4, to 134 3/4, helping the Dow contain its losses.
Yahoo rose 9 1/4, to 162-11/16, after Lehman Brothers raised its rating on the stock to "outperform" from "neutral." And online auctioneer eBay rose 9-11/16, to 144-7/16, after CIBC World Markets launched coverage with a "strong buy" recommendation.
But for much of the session, the broader market languished due to the dollar's continuing fall against the Japanese yen. After the Japanese government released a stronger-than-expected report on the nation's economic growth, the dollar fell to a three-year low of 108.06 yen in New York, from 111.18 Wednesday. Weakness in the dollar has been an undercurrent in the U.S. stock market in recent weeks, as improving economies in Asia and Europe attract investors who previously sought the relative safety of U.S. securities.
A weak dollar also makes imports more expensive, laying the ground for price inflation. That threat further unsettled investors, who already fear that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates a third time this year in its effort to quell inflation.
The Labor Department reported the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly last week to 286,000. Any level below 300,000 is considered a sign of an extremely tight labor market, potentially adding to the Fed's concerns that wage pressures are escalating.
The next key figure, the producer price index, was scheduled for release Friday morning, and analysts said that any surprise in the data could shake stocks out of their narrow trading range.
Rising crude oil prices helped Dow component Chevron gain 3 1/8, to 97-9/16, and BP Amoco rose 4-11/16, to 115-13/16.
American Home Products dropped 2 1/4, to 40-1/16, amid reports the company is facing a federal investigation involving the government's 1996 approval of the drug Redux. American Home Products has already seen its share price battered as the company faces thousands of lawsuits over its diet drugs, which have been linked to heart valve problems.
Advancing issues slightly outnumbered declining ones on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume was 773.9 million shares, down from 791.3 million Wednesday.