Stocks surged today as consumer confidence rebounded, the dollar gained value and crude oil prices fell to their lowest level in almost four months.
Encouraging hope that the market will recover enough in the next seven weeks to show a profit for the year, the Dow Jones industrial average advanced 94 points to 10,640.10--leaving the blue chip index off only a little more than 1 percent since the new year's eve.
The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index, which clawed its way back to break-even-for-the-year yesterday, climbed another 21 points today to 2,196.68, which left it up about by just that much since Dec. 31.
The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index climbed 10 points to 1,230.96 and now is up 1.6 percent year-to-date.
Today's gains for the Dow came despite the drag caused by General Motors. GM revealed overnight that it will have to restate its financial reports because of accounting errors that showed higher profits than the firm actually earned.
GM was the Dow's biggest loser, falling $1.12 to $23.51--a new 13-year low for the troubled car-maker.
More important to investors than GM--or another increase in the nation's trade deficit--was a rebound in consumer confidence which analysts tied to retreating petroleum prices.
Today crude oil futures for delivery next month dropped below $58 a barrel to their lowest price since early July. Crude is falling because supplies have stabilized and demand is weak. Americans have cut back on their driving because of high gasoline prices. And thanks to a warm fall, consumption of heating oil is also down. With gasoline down to $2 a gallon at a few stations in the Washington area, forecasts are for prices to continue to weaken--at least until the first winter cold snap.
Retail stocks also climbed today. Traders figure that if consumer confidence is getting better and family budgets aren't being pinched by energy costs, Christmas spending may turn out to be better than projected.