Wall St gains in choppy trade; tech lifts Nasdaq

Last Updated: Saturday, December 19, 2009 - 10:24

New York: Stocks rose on Friday in choppy trade as quarterly results from Oracle and Research In Motion lifted the Nasdaq more than 1 percent, but the US dollar`s climb curbed gains in both the Dow and the S&P 500.

The Nasdaq was led higher by Oracle Corp shares, which jumped 6.4 percent to USD 24.34, and the US-listed stock of Research In Motion Inc, which surged 10.3 percent to USD 69.99.

Despite the lift from these earnings-related stories, the robust dollar sapped much of the broader market`s strength.

The US dollar index climbed as much as 0.6 percent, but pared gains late in the session, easing some of the selling pressure on stocks. For the day, the US dollar index ended just marginally higher -- up 0.03 percent.

Shares of multinational companies suffered from the greenback`s rise. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc fell 0.6 percent to USD 57.19, while plane maker Boeing Co was the biggest drag on the Dow, off 1.9 percent at USD 53.44.

Geopolitical concerns supported the flight to the US dollar following reports that Iranian troops had entered Iraqi territory and raised the Iranian flag at an oilfield whose ownership is disputed by Iran.

"If there is tension developing in the Middle East, that would positive for the dollar because that would bring flight to safety ... that, in turn, could be negative for the equities markets," said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

A strong US dollar forces investors who have bet on a decline in the greenback to cover their short dollar positions by selling equities or other assets.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 20.63 points, or 0.20 percent, to 10,328.89. The Standard & Poor`s 500 Index gained 6.39 points, or 0.58 percent, to 1,102.47. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 31.64 points, or 1.45 percent, to 2,211.69.

For the week, the Dow fell 1.3 percent, the S&P 500 shed 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq rose 1 percent.

The declines snapped a two-week winning streak for the Dow and a three-week series of gains for the S&P 500.

Trading was choppy as Friday marked the expiration of December options and futures, a convergence known as quadruple witching that often means increased volatility as big investors adjust or exercise derivatives positions.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, December 19, 2009 - 10:24

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