Nasdaq Eyes Recovery High

The Nasdaq moved within 1% of its post-2002 high on Wednesday, as the stock market continued to erase its losses from the summer credit market-fueled meltdown.

The latest catalysts for the bulls were a GM strike settlement, a weak durable goods report that left investors hoping for more Federal Reserve rate cuts, and reports of a possible investment in Bear Stearns from Warren Buffett.

The Nasdaq closed at 2699 after coming within 15 points of its July peak of 2724.74, and the Dow moved with striking distance of a new all-time high with a triple-digit gain.

Red Hat was a standout for the tech sector, rising 5% to $19.89 after its 26% sales growth beat analysts’ forecasts.

Research In Motion gained 2.3% on a Citigroup upgrade, but much of the tech sector’s leaders — Google, Apple, Baidu and — faltered and ended the day lower. Google lost ground ahead of a Senate hearing into its proposed acquisition of DoubleClick, while Amazon competing against Apple in the online music space weighed on both stocks. Amazon has gained lately on hopes that high gas prices will boost online shopping.

Vonage’s long decline continued, falling below $1 a share on its latest legal setback.

CMGI fell 13% on its results, while NaviSite jumped 16% after raising guidance.

The Nasdaq rose 15 to 2699, the S&P gained 8 to 1525, and the Dow rose 99 to 13,878. Volume was unchanged at 3.15 billion shares on the NYSE, and rose to 2.05 billion shares on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 21-11 margin on the NYSE, and 17-12 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 67% on the NYSE, and 63% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 156-94 on the NYSE, and 150-93 on the Nasdaq.

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