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Markets soar, Dow hits record high

Wall Street continues to ring in the New Year with enthusiastic activity, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 9,500 for the first time.

Wall Street continued to ring in the New Year with enthusiastic activity today, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 9,500 for the first time.

The blue-chip index climbed 2.51 percent or 233.78 points to close at 9,544.97, surpassing its previous record close of 9,374.27 reached on November 23 of last year. The Dow hit as high as 9,562.22 earlier today.

The high-flying Dow also pulled the Nasdaq higher. The technology-laden index rose 3.08 percent or 69.35 points, to reach 2,320.62. The technology-heavy index reached 2,318.16 earlier in the day.

Analysts said takeover speculation in telecoms and auto stocks are fueling the market.

Wireless carrier AirTouch is in the middle of takeover talks from rival bidders Bell Atlantic and Vodafone.

"The momentum of the market is magnificent," said Barry Hyman, market strategist at Ehrenkrantz, King and Nussbaum. "[The markets] are breaking out of their trading range and it looks like the large caps and technology rally will continue."

Nine of the ten most actively traded stocks today on the Nasdaq market and all ten of the most actively traded issues on the New York Stock Exchange blasted higher.

Intel rose 5.07 percent to 129.5 and was the most actively traded issue on the Nasdaq with 26.7 million shares changing hands.

Informix jumped 11.11 percent, and Cisco Systems climbed 3.29 percent.

Amazon.com continued its skyward trajectory on news of strong holiday sales, rising 10.74 percent. Other Web stocks that went through the roof include portals Yahoo and Excite which gained 12.85 percent and 21.25 percent, respectively.

Dell Computer skipped 3.82 percent higher while Apple Computer fell 3.61 percent.

On the NYSE, Compaq Computer climbed 0.85 percent and was the second-most active stock with 15.8 million shares traded.

America Online, AT&T, and AirTouch climbed 1.06 percent, 4.25 percent, and 3.06 percent, respectively.

"There's a positive flow of money and we really haven't had any new big negatives in the market to stop that,'' said Mara Glassel, vice president of Prudential Securities Equity Focus Group.

Reuters contributed to this report.