The stock market moved sharply higher in the last hour of trading Wednesday, surging ahead in heavy volume touched off by premiums in stock index futures that triggered computerized trading programs on the buy side.
The Dow Jones industrial average, up only 8.43 points at 3 p.m., soared to 1831.69 at the close of trading for a gain of 31.49.Trading in the final hour came to 37 million shares, compared with 22.7 million a day earlier, bringing the final total on the New York Stock Exchange to 145 million shares as against 116.8 million on Tuesday.
However, the DJIA had to share the spotlight with the Dow transportation index, which climbed 8.50 to 836.13, topping the previous closing high of 830.84 established March 31.
Analysts said the market appeared to be higher more on the basis of an absence of bad news rather than as the result of any especially good news.
For example, the day's report of a record 4.6 percent jump in retail sales during September was seen as having little effect on overall prices. Almost all of the increase was due to a 19.5 percent jump in automobile sales last month because of widespread financing incentives.
The airline stocks helped contribute to the rise in the transportation
average in a continued reaction to Tuesday's announcement of upcoming fare increases, as well as the possibility of lower fuel costs because of the
uncertain outcome of continued OPEC negotiations regarding output quotas.
AMR Corp., parent company of American Airlines, was up 7/8 at 61 1/4 in late trading,while UAL Inc., parent company of United Airlines, was ahead 3/4 at 59 and NWA Inc., the parent of Northwest Airlines, rose 1 1/4 to 58 3/4.
Despite the uncertainty over the OPEC negotiations, oil issues recovered some of the previous day's losses. Chevron Corp. was up 3/4 at 43 1/4 , Texaco Inc. rose 5/8 to 34 3/8 and Exxon was ahead 7/8 at 67.
Pharmaceutical stocks generally were higher, reflecting higher earnings reported by Upjohn Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. Upjohn rose 2 1/4 to 94 and Schering jumped 2 7/8 to 79 1/2, while Merck & Co. was up 3 1/2 at 106 3/4 and Bristol-Myers was ahead 1 1/4 at 74 3/4.