Wall Street Rally Takes Dow Above 11,000
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NEW YORK (AP) – Wall Street rallied for a second session Thursday as strong earnings from Bear Stearns Cos. and mild economic data helped stocks regain their footing after several weeks of hefty losses. The Dow Jones industrials gained more than 110 points.
Although the day’s data gave mixed signals on economic growth, investors again brushed aside worries about inflation and interest rates following a month of selling that pulled the Dow down more than 8 percent. The Dow jumped 110 points Wednesday as investors dealt with the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will hike rates later this month.
Nationwide industrial output dipped unexpectedly last month, which bolstered hopes that a weakening economy could keep the Fed from raising rates much higher. However, worries about an economic plunge were countered by a stronger-than-forecast rise in New York-area manufacturing and a modest slide in Philadelphia-area activity.
While the data came as evidence of a slowing economy, it was “not enough for the Fed to stop worrying about inflation,” said Stuart Schweitzer, global markets strategist at JPMorgan Asset and Wealth Management. He warned that the market is likely to remain volatile until the central bank releases its next opinion of the economy’s health.
“The Fed still may have to tighten further, potentially beyond the increase expected at the end of June,” Schweitzer said. “To stop them in August, we will have to see a more decisive slowdown in growth.”
In midafternoon trading, the Dow jumped 111.18, or 1.03 percent, to 10,928.10. The Dow shed 186 points on Monday and Tuesday to fall into the red for the first time this year, but Wednesday’s gains put the index back in positive territory.
Broader stock indicators also saw strong gains. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 15.64, or 1.27 percent, at 1,245.68, and the Nasdaq composite index surged 39.64, or 1.9 percent, to 2,125.64.
Bonds slumped as stocks rose, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note at 5.09 percent from 5.06 percent late Wednesday. However, the continued inversion of short- and long-term yields signaled investor expectations of a slowing economy.
Wall Street’s Wednesday recovery led overseas stock markets higher. Japan’s Nikkei stock average gained 1.13 percent; Britain’s FTSE 100 added 2.04 percent, Germany’s DAX index climbed 2.19 percent and France’s CAC-40 was higher by 2.36 percent.
Crude futures saw another day of gains after the government reported a larger-than-expected drop in U.S. oil reserves as refineries stepped up output to meet summer gasoline demand. A barrel of light crude climbed 86 cents to $70 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The U.S. dollar drifted against the Japanese yen and European currencies. Gold prices rebounded to about $570 an ounce.
Despite two days of sturdy gains, some analysts were skeptical about whether Wall Street has finally reversed course. Although Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday that record oil prices have so far had a “relatively low” effect on prices elsewhere, the inflation risk is still present and has investors still bracing for impact.
“I think the market is trying to look beyond any day’s set of numbers and the next Fed comment and try to get a real assessment of how this inflection point in the economy is going to play out,” said Jerry Webman, chief economist of Oppenheimer Funds. “The crosswinds are blowing in different directions _ the question is how far they’re going to push us.”
In economic news, traders focused on data showing May industrial production fell 0.1 percent, below estimates for a 0.2 percent rise and down sharply from a 0.8 percent jump the month before. The Fed also said capacity utilization fell slightly to 81.7 percent.
Other reports showed mixed readings on regional manufacturing for June. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Empire State index surged to 29 from 12.9 the month before, while the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said manufacturing activity slowed to 13.1 from 14.4 in May.
The Labor Department also said first-time jobless claims dipped by 8,000 to 295,000 last week, although analysts maintained expectations for the job market to weaken in the coming months.
In corporate news, Bear Stearns’ quarterly profit grew 83 percent to easily beat Wall Street estimates, lifted by strength in equity trading and fixed-income revenue. Bear Stearns swelled $5.35 to $129.55.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which on Tuesday also posted outstanding earnings, boosted its offer for Associated British Ports Holdings PLC to about $4.8 billion, which was matched by Australia-based Macquarie Bank Ltd. in an intensifying bidding war. Goldman Sachs gained $3.60 to $142.10.
General Mills Inc. tumbled $1.12 to $50.34 after the cereal and snack food maker lifted its 2006 forecast but said 2007 profit growth would be hindered by expenses. Citigroup cut General Mills to “Hold” on its outlook.
Advancing issues topped decliners by about 4 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume of 1.16 billion shares fell behind the 1.23 billion shares changing hands at the same point Wednesday.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 18.57, or 2.74 percent, to 695.66.
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