Wall Street today was saved by tech stocks from the costly embarrassment of a six-day losing streak.
Texas Instruments, Microsoft, Oracle, Qualcomm and PeopleSoft delivered not only decent quarterly results but also glimmers of growth in their forecasts for this year.
Their gains were enough to overcome a mediocre reading on the Index of Leading Economic Indictors and worries about AT&T Corp. and McDonald's, both of which seem to have their best days behind them.
After McDonald's announced its first quarterly loss ever and plans to close 500 restaurants, its stock fell below $15 a share for the first time since 1995 but managed to pull back above that benchmark by the closing bell.
AT&T stock also took a hit after the phone company, which investors figured would benefit from the bankruptcy of WorldCom Corp., instead continued to lose long distance customers.
The reports from McDonald's and AT&T pulled down the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average in morning trading, but both were buoyed later in the day by the resurgent tech stocks.
The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index turned in the best performance of the day, gaining more than 2 percent to close at 1,388.37, up almost 29 points.
The S&P 500 was up about 1 percent, climbing 9 points to 887.34 while the Dow rose only half that much, gaining 51 points to 8,369.47.
The index of leading indicators did rise for the third month in a row, but it didn't indicate any robust growth is coming in the next three to six months.
The index was up just 0.1 percent, suggesting considerably slower growth during December than the 0.5 percent improvement in the previous month.