NEW YORK Wall Street logged another winning day Wednesday as a drop in oil prices and a better-than-expected profit report from technology bellwether Cisco Systems Inc. helped corral the market's worries about the financial sector.
Oil extended its slide into a third day. Light, sweet crude settled down 59 cents at $118.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the government reported a jump in domestic inventories; oil is now down about $30 from its record high of $147.27 reached on July 11.
Cisco rose more 5 percent after the networking equipment company posted earnings that narrowly topped Wall Street's forecast. The report helped buoy sentiment and lifted the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index.
The buying came a day after a huge rally an advance that initially looked like it might not hold. Investors began the day fearing more industrywide write-downs of bad home loans after mortgage financier Freddie Mac reported a larger-than-expected second-quarter loss. But a reversal in oil prices, continuing a decline that propelled stocks sharply higher Tuesday, helped calm investors about the forces tugging at the economy.
The well-being of Freddie Mac and sister company Fannie Mae is a big concern on Wall Street as the government-chartered companies hold or back nearly half of all U.S. mortgage debt. The companies have lost billions of dollars due to failed loans over the past year; the federal government has pledged to help both companies with larger lines of credit or stock purchases if necessary.
According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 40.30, or 0.35 percent, to 11,656.07, after having been down nearly 100 points early in the session. The gain brought the Dow's two-day advance to about 370 points. The blue chips soared Tuesday on a reassuring economic statement from the Federal Reserve and another drop in oil prices.Broader stock indicators also advanced again Wednesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.31, or 0.34 percent, to 1,289.19, and the Nasdaq rose 28.54, or 1.21 percent, to 2,378.37.