The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose for a sixth day, their longest winning streaks since August 2000, as U.S. forces prepared to invade Iraq.
The Dow rose 71.22, or 0.9 percent, to 8265.45. The S&P climbed 7.57, or 0.9 percent, to 874.02. The Nasdaq composite index fell 3.48, or 0.3 percent, to 1397.07.
Both the S&P and Dow have surged since March 11 as investors speculated that the United States will oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein within days or weeks. For the Dow, the rally is the longest since Aug. 21-28, 2000. For the S&P, it's the longest winning streak since the six days ended Aug. 8, 2000.
Merck rose $1.44, to $54.46. Procter & Gamble, the biggest U.S. maker of household products, gained $1.30, to $87.92. They rose after Federal Reserve policymakers, in leaving their benchmark interest rate at a 41-year low Tuesday, said they couldn't assess the economic outlook as war approached.
Altria, the parent of Philip Morris, climbed $1.21, to $33.81, recouping some of Tuesday's 6.1 percent plunge, as Morgan Stanley raised tobacco stocks to "attractive" from "in-line."
Analysts David Adelman and Jonathan Fell said investors probably overestimated the effects of litigation on the tobacco industry. The Justice Department said in court filings that it wants companies to forfeit $289 billion in profits made through allegedly fraudulent marketing.
Defense contractors advanced. General Dynamics, maker of the Army's main battle tank, rose 67 cents, to $58.42. The company said it received a $156 million order for Stryker combat vehicles from the Army as part of a $4 billion contract awarded in November 2000.
Lockheed Martin, the largest U.S. military contractor, rose 98 cents, to $48.30.
Oracle, the largest maker of database software in the world, dropped 94 cents, to $11.31, after chief executive Larry Ellison said the company had a "precipitous falloff" in sales last month.
Expedia, an online travel agency, rose $8.23, or 21 percent, to $47.13. USA Interactive agreed to acquire the remaining 46 percent of Expedia that it doesn't already own in a stock swap worth $3.3 billion.
USA Interactive, which is paying 30 percent more than Expedia's closing share price Tuesday, fell $1.64, to $24.85.
Bear Stearns rose $1.39, to $65.89. The company said fiscal first-quarter profit rose 52 percent, boosted by its business of packaging mortgages into debt securities.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 45.21, to 4845.37; the American Stock Exchange index fell 0.12, to 819.20; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 0.51, to 368.51.
* Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by 7 to 6 on the NYSE, where trading volume fell to 1.42 billion shares, from 1.54 billion on Tuesday. On the Nasdaq Stock Market, advancers narrowly outnumbered decliners and volume totaled 1.68 billion, up from 1.57 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note fell $6.88 per $1,000 invested, and its yield rose to 3.99 percent, from 3.91 percent on Tuesday.
* The dollar rose against the Japanese yen and the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 120.56 yen, up from 118.86 late Tuesday, and a euro bought $1.0571, down from $1.0633.
* Light, sweet crude oil for April delivery settled at $29.88, down $1.79, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
* Gold for current delivery fell to $336.10 a troy ounce, from $337.60 on Tuesday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.