Saturday, September 17, 2011

US STOCKS-Europe propels Wall Street higher for week

NEW YORK: U.S. stocks rose for a fifth day in a row on Friday and the S&P 500 scored its best week since early July on signs euro zone leaders were acting together to limit any damage from its sovereign debt crisis.

The leaders took steps this week to show they were tackling the debt crisis, which has plagued markets for weeks, including coordinated central bank moves to give European banks greater access to funding in dollars.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged EU finance ministers to leverage their bailout fund to better tackle the debt crisis and to start speaking with one voice, but there was no agreement on what steps to take.

Still, the encouraging headlines out of Europe helped the S&P 500 post a 5.4 percent gain for the week, its best since early July, and the five-day string of gains was the broad index's strongest since the end of June.

The Nasdaq composite index registered its best weekly percentage advance since July 2009, reflecting strength in TECHNOLOGY [] shares on Friday. The S&P tech index rose 1 percent, while the S&P consumer discretionary index also gained 1 percent.

"The market seems to be a little bit more reassured that (their) support will not allow for a major disruption in Europe," said Natalie Trunow, chief investment officer of equities at Calvert Investment Management in Bethesda, Maryland, which manages about $14.8 billion.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 75.91 points, or 0.66 percent, at 11,509.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 6.90 points, or 0.57 percent, at 1,216.01. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 15.24 points, or 0.58 percent, at 2,622.31.

The Nasdaq gained 6.3 percent for the week while the Dow rose 4.7 percent.

Still, major obstacles must be overcome in solving the euro zone's debt crisis.

Less than 75 percent of private sector creditors have signaled they will take part in a scheme to buy back Greek debt, far less than the 90 percent target set by Greece. The shortfall could jeopardize the planned second bailout package for Athens.

Greece's international lenders said on Friday they would delay a crucial visit to the country next week, and European finance ministers demanded that Athens fulfill its pledges to win further aid.

After the market's close, Moody's Investors Service left Italy's Aa2 foreign sovereign currency credit rating unchanged but reiterated that it remained on review for a possible downgrade.

Among U.S. stocks, General Electric Co gained 1.6 percent to $16.33 after forming two new joint ventures in Russia that it said could generate $10 billion to $15 billion in new revenue over the next few years.

Another Dow component, United Technologies Corp, is lining up financing for a major acquisition in the United States, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The U.S. industrial conglomerate is tapping the credit market for funds that could top $20 billion, said one of the sources. Its shares slipped 0.1 percent to $75.50.

One of the worst hit stocks, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd slid 19 percent to $23.93 a day after it reported a steep drop in quarterly profit and offered little hope of a turnaround soon.

U.S. economic data showed consumer sentiment inched up in early September, but Americans were gloomy about the future. A gauge of expectations fell to its lowest level since 1980.

Volume was a strong 8.8 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange, Amex and Nasdaq, above last year's average of roughly 7.6 billion.

Advancers led decliners by 15 to 14 on the NYSE and by about 7 to 6 on Nasdaq. ' Reuters


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