Earnings Propel Wall Street; Dow Jones Industrial Average Closes at All-Time High

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at an all-time high Wednesday as stronger-than-expected profits from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) eased concerns about the subprime lending crisis for big financial companies.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 30.80 points, or 0.24 percent, to close at 12,803.84. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 1.02 points, or 0.07 percent, to finish at 1,472.50. But the Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 6.45 points, or 0.26 percent, to close at 2,510.50.

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The Dow ended at a record 12,803.84 eclipsing a previous record set on Feb. 20, a week before a global sell-off hit equities markets. On Wednesday, the blue-chip Dow average also climbed to an all-time session high of 12,838.46, surpassing the previous intraday record high, also reached on Feb. 20.

A string of big corporate buyouts and data showing steady economic growth, fueled by consumer spending, have helped the 30-stock Dow average bounce back from its 416-point loss on Feb. 27.

Shares of JPMorgan Chase led financial shares higher after the No. 3 U.S. bank reported a 55 percent rise in quarterly profits. Problems with subprime mortgages, targeted to less credit-worthy buyers, appeared to be a minor issue with the bank.

Among financial stocks, Washington Mutual Inc. (WM) and Citigroup Inc. also supported the market.

Boeing Co. (BA), the world's biggest-selling commercial jetmaker, was the Dow's top driver.

"Financials have tremendously underperformed, so it was really their time to do something," said Stephen Massocca, co-chief executive of San Francisco-based investment bank Pacific Growth Equities.

"The reason financials stayed behind was because of the subprime mortgage mess. It looks to me the subprime thing is fairly well contained and the financials are due for a rally," Massocca said.

During the session, the S&P 500 also climbed to a 6-1/2-year high at 1,476.57. And the NYSE Composite Index , designed to measure the performance of all common stocks listed on the NYSE including ADRs, rose to an all-time high at 9,658.26.

Despite the Dow's record move, volume was below average on the New York Stock Exchange and declining stocks outnumbered advancing ones.

Boeing's stock hit an all-time high of $94.17 after news the U.S. aerospace company was the sole bidder for a $2.5 billion South Korean jet deal. . It gained 3.8 percent to close at $93.88.

JPMorgan's stock advanced 3.8 percent at $52.07 after hitting an all-time high of $52.39.

The financial sector ranks as the worst performer in the S&P 500 so far this year.

Citigroup's shares gained 0.9 percent to $52.99.

Washington Mutual Inc., the largest U.S. savings and loan, reported a 20 percent slide in first-quarter profit, but the decline was smaller than expected. Its shares rose 5.1 percent to $42.17.

Tech stocks fell following disappointing results from Yahoo Inc. and International Business Machines Corp., which were released after Tuesday's closing bell.

Yahoo shares slid 11.8 percent to $28.31 on the Nasdaq, while IBM's stock dropped 2.4 percent to $94.80 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Since its February record, the Dow's biggest gainers were Merck & Co. Inc., up 11.84 percent over that period; Coca-Cola Co. , up 7.91 percent; McDonald's Corp. , up 6.79 percent, and Exxon Mobil Corp., up 4.47 percent.

The top loser over that time was Altria Group Inc. ,18.22 percent. But the company completed the spin-off of its interest in Kraft Foods Inc. during the period.

About 1.61 billion shares changed hands on the NYSE, below last year's estimated daily average of 1.84 billion, while on the Nasdaq, about 2.10 billion shares traded, above last year's daily average of 2.02 billion.

Declining stocks outnumbered advancing ones by a ratio of about 9 to 7 on the NYSE and by about 3 to 2 on Nasdaq.

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