On Thursday, the good news was about inflation: The Labor Department said wages, as measured by unit labor costs, rose at a tepid 0.6 percent rate in the first quarter. The news fed Wall Street’s hopes for an interest rate cut later this year. Perhaps giving the S&P 500 its final push, the Institute for Supply Management said its index of nonmanufacturing business rose to 56.0 in April from 52.4. “You’re seeing some vertigo out there, the fear we’re getting ahead of ourselves,” said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co. “There’s going to be natural trepidation at new levels, but you rationalize these levels in knowing that we haven’t overextended ourselves like we were in 1999.” The Dow Jones rose 29.50, or 0.22 percent, to 13,241.38. The blue chip index has now hit 18 record closes since the start of the year and 40 since the beginning of October. The Dow’s climb in 22 of the past 25 sessions marks the blue chip average’s longest advance since 1955. The Nasdaq composite index rose 7.62, or 0.30 percent, to 2,565.46. The S&P’s achievement marked another milestone in Wall Street’s recovery from a prolonged slump at the start of the decade. The slide began with the end of the dot-com boom, then accelerated as the economy fell into recession and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Corporate scandals including the collapse of Enron Corp. and Worldcom took a further toll on the market. The S&P 500 fell to a low of 776.76 on Oct. 9, 2002, before starting its recovery. But while it and the Dow have made the long trip back, the Nasdaq, despite its own signs of vigor, is not expected to reach its closing high of 5,048.62, set March 24, 2000, anytime soon. The tech-dominated index was arguably overinflated by the rush to join the Internet boom. “People are watching the momentum moving the market higher, and in some cases they’re participating, maybe grudgingly, but they’re missing out otherwise,” said Bill Schultz, chief investment officer, at McQueen, Ball & Associates. “There are a lot of people that are looking for a dip to buy, and we haven’t seen it. At some point you have to say the dip isn’t coming, but I want to participate.” Thursday’s advance came as investors grew optimistic about inflation. Concerns about inflation, including that of wages, still dog the market as investors try to determine whether an inflation-wary Federal Reserve will become comfortable enough later in the year to lower short-term interest rates. The Fed has left rates unchanged at recent meetings, in part because of concerns about inflation. Other economic data helped shape investor sentiment Thursday. The government reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell by 21,000 last week to 305,000, the lowest level since mid-January. The decline was broader than expected and was the third straight decrease in weekly claims. The economic figures came a day ahead of other Labor Department reports on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment. Besides economic data, the parade of earnings reports continued Thursday with General Motors Corp. turning in lower first-quarter earnings. GM’s profit fell 90 percent from a year earlier, which benefited from a gain. The company also had losses in the residential mortgage business of GMAC Financial Services. GM, one of 30 stocks that make up the Dow industrials, fell $1.75, or 5.4 percent, to $30.69. Bonds fell Thursday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 4.67 percent from 4.65 percent late Thursday. Light, sweet crude fell 49 cents to $63.19 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NEW YORK – Wall Street extended its advance Thursday amid a burst of enthusiasm about the economy that gave the Standard & Poor’s 500 index its first close above 1,500 since September 2000. The S&P 500, the index most closely watched by market professionals, made its first foray past 1,500 shortly after trading began and rose as high as 1,503.34 just over a week after the Dow Jones industrial average passed 13,000 for the first time. The index closed at 1,502.39, up 6.47, or 0.43 percent, and is now within striking distance of its closing high of 1,527.46, set March 24, 2000, just as the dot-com bubble began to burst and Wall Street began a three-year-long decline. The Dow, meanwhile, had its third straight record-high close. Stocks have soared in recent weeks as first-quarter earnings beat reduced expectations, and upbeat economic news added to the gains. With the Dow having piled on more than 700 points in April alone, there are concerns that investors may be getting a little too enthusiastic given the uncertainty in the housing market and other sectors of the economy.
Re “School reform facing hurdles” (Nov. 1): Again the politicos are painting UTLA as the bad guys seemingly against school reform. If the schools were a manufacturing facility, working with consistent raw material, the suggestions may be valid. However, children from K-12 are not cut from the same cloth. The range of experiences and areas of strengths and weaknesses are in no way consistent. Maybe the union, which is made up of teachers, can see this range of abilities and experiences? The decision makers are so far from the classroom that the students are perceived as widgets. Give me a teacher in a high-performing school and place them in a low-performing school and watch how the output changes. We need to address the wide range of students’ experiences, talents and interests. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre – Karen Savitt Granada Hills Not baked? Re “School reform facing hurdles” (Nov. 1): Superintendent Brewer is almost correct when he said that the LAUSD reform plan was not baked. It is half-baked. – Venida Korda Van Nuys Skid Row Re “City seeks fines for dumping patients” (Nov. 1): Councilwoman Jan Perry and City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo are promoting a law to make it criminal for hospitals to discharge homeless patients where they are found or at an address they give on Skid Row. There is no doubt that such a law will solve the problem. If the few remaining hospitals are required to keep the indigent emergency room patients indefinitely, their rooms will fill up to the point where there will be no room for paying patients. They will have no choice but to declare bankruptcy and close. There will then be no more homeless people dumped on Skid Row after treatment. There won’t be any treatment. The city and county can take all the untreated, dead patients to their long-term-care facility – the city morgue. – Bob Larkin Westlake Village Ghetto service I would like to inform the mayor of some additional problems in the Pacoima area. First, I would like to know why the sanitation trucks start arriving in my area at 5:45 a.m.? Additionally, since they arrive so early and try to get out in a hurry, they are doing a poor job picking up the cans. The manner they are using causes trash and debris to fall onto the street. This is a major problem since we hardly ever see a street sweeper, nor do we have scheduled days for cleaning. I ask, would individuals in Northridge, West Hills or any other non-ghetto area tolerate this behavior? I think not. I’m requesting that this behavior stop and you send a crew of street maintenance workers over to immediately clean up their mess. – Kim Garrett Pacoima Market report OK, we got the funnies back. Now, let’s take a look at the business section. As a retiree and small investor, the daily stock market listing has guided me in managing my investments for the past 20 years. Now it’s gone! Please reconsider and return it to the business section. – Hap Gladish Tujunga Bush not liar Re “Bush legacy: Even truth disbelieved” (Comments, Oct. 31): I find it interesting that Richard Cohen blames Bush for our country believing “its government is a liar.” I recall quite clearly that Bush had very high character ratings going into the 2004 election, and the Democrats realized they could not win as long as people trusted this president. That is when the onslaught began and has never let up for a moment since. President Bush is certainly not a liar but has been viciously labeled so by the press, Moveon.org, the Democrats in Congress, and the Hollywood elite, resulting in this lie being thoroughly ingrained in the public’s mind. Although I believe they will fail in the end, the Democrats have made every attempt to ruin this presidency. – Sharon Hess Sherman Oaks160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!