VOL. 36 | NO. 38 | Friday, September 21, 2012
Stocks higher after 5-day losing streak
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rallied Thursday on Wall Street and appeared headed for their first gain of the week after Spain announced severe budget cuts intended to convince the world that it can meet deficit-reduction targets.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up as much as 109 points. Just before 2 p.m., it was up 100 points at 13,513.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index, after five days of declines, was up 16 points at 1,449. The Nasdaq composite index, enjoying a strong day for Apple stock, climbed 44 to 3,137.
As fear grew that Spain will need an international bailout, the finance minister said a draft budget for 2013 cuts overall spending by €40 billion, or about $51 billion. He said cuts for ministries would average almost 9 percent.
The cuts are meant to show world investors and other countries that Spain can meet fiscal targets. The budget unveiling, shortly before noon EDT, lifted the U.S. stock market from what had been only modest gains.
"That's the only major thing that's happened," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist for the brokerage BTIG. "It's an excuse to rally the stock market."
Banks, energy companies and technology companies were among the stocks enjoying the biggest gains. Utility stocks, which tend to do well when investors are fearful, were the only industry group in the S&P to fall, and just barely.
The S&P has fallen five trading days in a row, its longest losing streak since July.
The market gains started earlier, in Asia, helped by expectations that the People's Bank of China will soon take more steps to ease a slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy.
Stocks rose 0.5 percent in Japan and 1.1 percent in Hong Kong.
In the United States, investors grappled Thursday with mixed economic data:
— The economy grew at an annual rate of 1.3 percent from April through June, the government said, slower than the previous estimate of 1.7 percent and not nearly fast enough to reduce unemployment.
— Demand for long-lasting manufactured goods plunged in August by the most since January 2009. That was mostly because of a huge drop in commercial aircraft orders, which are volatile. Orders that reflect business investment rose solidly.
— The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 26,000 last week to 359,000, the lowest figure in nine weeks. A figure consistently below 375,000 is generally enough to lower the unemployment rate.
— The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy previously occupied homes fell in August from a two-year high in July. The National Association of Realtors' sales index is still 10 percent higher than it was a year ago.
In Europe, stocks came back from one of their worst days in months. The benchmark stock index finished 0.7 percent higher in France and 0.2 percent higher in Germany and Britain.
Borrowing costs for financially troubled Spain and Italy also edged down, a positive sign.
In the U.S., demand for government bonds fell, generally an indication that investors are more willing to embrace risk. The yield on the 10-year note, which moves opposite the price, rose 0.03 percentage point to 1.64 percent.
The price of crude oil rose $1.19 per barrel to $91.15 as concerns mounted about a potential military confrontation over Iran's nuclear program. Oil had dropped $9 a barrel in two weeks.
The dollar was flat against most major currencies.
Apple stock advanced, reversing three straight days of declines. The gain came despite a UBS analyst's report reducing estimates for shipments of iPhones during the October-through-December quarter to 38 million from 44 million.
The analyst, Steven Milunovich, cited supply problems. He kept a rating of "buy" on the stock and a price target of $780. Apple was up $12.32, or 1.8 percent, at $677.56.
Among other U.S. companies making moves:
— Tempur-Pedic International, the mattress company, climbed $4.48, or 17 percent, to $31.27 after announcing it would buy a rival, Sealy, for about $229 million in cash.
— Discover Financial Services rose $2.37, or 6.4 percent, to $39.39. It reported a slight earnings decline in its latest quarter but beat Wall Street expectations. It also said credit card use increased and more customers paid off cards on time.