Stocks rose sharply today, boosted by a strong earnings report from high-tech bellwether Intel and comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan that indicate interest rates might be rising only slightly.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 140.55, to a new closing record of 11,722.98, easily topping Thursday's record. The new closing high was the Dow's third this week and its fourth since the start of 2000. For the week, the Dow was up 200.42.
Broader market measures also finished with solid gains. The Nasdaq composite index rose 107.06, to 4064.27, and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock average rose 15.47, to 1465.15.
The Nasdaq, which dipped as much as 10 percent below its peak last week, has rebounded in the past two sessions and is now just 1.6 percent below the record high it reached Jan. 3. The S&P 500, meanwhile, is just 4 percent below its closing record, reached Dec. 31.
Technology stocks led the Dow and the Nasdaq today, with industry leaders Intel and Microsoft accounting for a major portion of those indexes' gains.
Intel, the world's leading computer chip maker, rose 12, to 103-1/16, after announcing better-than-expected earnings late Thursday. The company's strong report lifted rival chipmaker Applied Materials, which gained 11-1/8, to 135-5/8.
Microsoft rose 4-7/16, to 112-1/4, a day after Bill Gates announced his decision to relinquish the chief executive job to company President Steve Ballmer. Analysts said the move will assure continuity in Microsoft's leadership.
Stocks also benefited from growing confidence that inflation is not rising sharply. A speech by Greenspan Thursday night convinced many investors that the Fed is likely to raise rates no more than a one-quarter of a percentage point at the next Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Feb. 1-2.
The economic data released today again showed that inflation remains under control. The government said consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in December. But excluding energy prices, the increase was just 0.1 percent.