Some good news/bad news on the economic front.
The good news is that the Dow has approached 10,000. The bad news is that retail sales are still lousy.
Stocks rallied Wednesday morning, with the Dow industrials nearly hitting the 10,000 level for the first time in a year, following better-than-expected quarterly profit reports from Intel and JPMorgan Chase.
The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) gained 116 points, or 1.2%, to 9987, almost 2 hours into the session. The blue-chip average had risen as high as 9991.68 before stepping back slightly.
The last time the Dow crossed 10,000 during a trading session was Oct. 7, 2008, when it briefly touched 10,124.03
The S&P 500 (SPX) index rose 13 points or 1.2% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) added 23 points or 1.1%.
Retail sales fell in September after a popular program aimed at boosting auto sales ended, but the drop was smaller than economists had expected, government data showed Wednesday.
The Commerce Department said total retail sales fell 1.5% last month, down sharply from an increase of 2.7% in August, when overall sales were boosted by the government’s Cash for Clunker’s program.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a decline of 2.1% in September sales.
Sales excluding autos and auto parts rose 0.5%, compared to a 1.1% increase in August. Economists expected a gain of 0.2% in September sales, excluding auto purchases.
Consumer confidence growing. The stronger-than-expected gain in sales outside the auto industry suggests that consumers are gradually becoming more confident as the U.S. economy emerges from a deep recession.
“Today’s report is broadly reflective of what we’re seeing in other areas of the economy, and that is a slow and gradual recovery,” said Tim Quinlan, an economist at Wells Fargo.
In general it looks like it will be a s-l-o-w recovery…particularly with jobs loss persisting as a national problem (and notable problem for Democrats heading into 2010).