NEW YORK -- The stock market barreled higher yesterday, sending the Dow Jones industrials to a 3-year high as two Wall Street firms reported better-than-expected earnings and a brokerage gave tech bellwether Intel Corp. a ratings upgrade.
The good earnings news, along with the Intel upgrade, set a positive tone for the market throughout the session. Stocks also benefited from the traditional ''Santa Claus" rally, as mutual funds and money managers shuffle their portfolios before the year ends.
Stocks have climbed steadily since the presidential election, with good economic data and positive profit forecasts for 2005 assuring investors of further returns.
The Dow rose 97.83 to 10,759.43. It was the best close for the Dow since June 13, 2001. Broader stock indicators also made substantial gains. The Standard & Poor's 500 was up 10.78 at 1,205.43, just below the 3.5-year high of 1,205.72 set on Wednesday. The Nasdaq Composite gained 23.06 to 2,150.91.
While brokerage stocks remained volatile, the 2005 outlooks from Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns Cos. renewed investors' hopes that the first half of the new year will see continued economic and earnings growth.
Bear Stearns reported a 22 percent jump in profits, well above analysts' forecasts, but its shares were off $1.80 at $102.70 as a possible sale of the company was seen as less likely.
Morgan Stanley also beat expectations and gained 85 cents at $54.50, despite missing Wall Street's revenue forecasts.
The tech sector got a lift after Lehman Brothers upgraded Intel Corp. to ''overweight," citing improved forecasts for spending in 2005.