Strong corporate profits kept the stock market climbing today, boosting the Nasdaq Stock Market composite index and the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index to new four-year highs.
Starbucks, the king of caffeine, ExxonMobil, the king of gasoline, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, a prince among drug makers, led the market higher with strong earnings. DaimlerChrysler shares jumped after the company forced out chief executive Juergen Schrempp, who engineered the trans-Atlantic merger that proved so disappointing to both companies.
About 350 of the stocks in the S&P 500 index have reported quarterly earnings so far and 70 percent of them delivered bigger profits than expected, according to Bloomberg News calculations. Large numbers of companies have also boosted their projections of profits for the rest of the years, including Starbucks and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Earnings -- and projected earnings -- are the most important factor in stock prices, but the market is also benefiting from increasing confidence in the strength of the economy.
Comments from Wall Street strategists and analysts suggest a bandwagon effect is building, as investors look at the steadily rising market and decide they don't want to be left behind.
The buying trend is so strong that the market today was not deterred by the rising price of crude oil, which climbed back toward $60 a barrel, closing up 83 cents at $59.94. Crude prices, which a few weeks ago were pushing stocks down whenever they went up, have been inching up recently with little impact on the market.
Oil company stocks are about the only ones being moved by oil prices these days, and they are regularly rising as high price crude pushed up profits of companies such as Exxon, which reported its earnings grew 32 percent.
As the profits rolled in, the indexes kept rising.
After reaching their highest levels in four years earlier in the week, the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 pushed higher today. The S&P gained seven points to 1,243.72. The Nasdaq index picked up 12 points, closing at 2,198.44.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 68 points to 10,705.55, but still remains more than 200 points below the high it hit last spring.