New Year’s Rally Flounders At Finish

The first trading session of 2004 started with a bang Friday before tumbling by the final bell, despite positive economic news.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq eked out a modest gain of 3.3 points to finish at 2007, after having spent most of the trading day around 2020.

The Dow Jones hit its highest level (10,527) in nearly two years Friday morning, then fell steadily through the afternoon to finish at 10,410, a drop of 44 points, or 0.4 percent. The S&P 500 dipped 3 points, or 0.3 percent, to end the day at 1108.

The economic news that greeted investors Friday morning involved manufacturing activity. The Institute of Supply Management’s monthly reading showed an increase in December to 66.2 percent from 62.8 percent in November. Many economists expected a slight drop from November’s figure.

It wasn’t enough sustain prices through the trading day, however, as the major indices began losing altitude by noon.

The most heavily traded tech stocks Friday mostly ended close to where they began. Shares of software giant Microsoft inched up 8 cents to finish at $27.45, a statistical gain of 0.3 percent.

Chip maker Intel gained 11 cents, or 0.3 percent, to close at $32.16.

Network server maker Sun Microsystems rose 23 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $4.70.

Cell phone maker Nokia advanced 17 cents, or exactly 1 percent, to finish at $17.17.

Storage vendor EMC rose 30 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $13.22, while database maker Oracle dipped 9 cents, or 0.7 percent, to end at $13.14.

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