Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Stocks of Retailers Surge on Consumer Optimism

After a report showing increased consumer confidence, stocks in the U.S. rose following several days of declines. At the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Glenn Pohs worked on the exchange’s options floor.

The New York Times - After several days of declines on concerns about the government’s borrowing needs and the soundness of the dollar, stock markets rebounded Tuesday on a surprising bounce in consumer confidence. The private Conference Board reported that consumer sentiment rose again in May, hitting its highest levels in eight months.

As traders returned to Wall Street after the holiday weekend, the glints of good news in those numbers were enough to outweigh other figures showing that housing prices continued to tumble as fast as ever. Every sector of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was higher, led by financial stocks and consumer-geared companies like McDonald’s, the Home Depot and Lowe’s home improvement chains, and the Walt Disney Company.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 196.17 points, or 2.37 percent, to 8,473.49, while the S.& P. 500 was 2.6 percent, or 23.33 points, higher at 910.33.

The technology-focused Nasdaq outpaced other indexes, rising 3.5 percent, or 58.42 points, to 1,750.43, on gains among computer makers, search engines and Internet firms as analysts upgraded Apple. Apple, the maker of iPhones and iPods, rose 6.8 percent to $130.78 a share.

Big banks like Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase closed higher, bolstered by optimism that improving consumer sentiment could translate into stability for the financial system. Investors also edged back toward the dollar, a week after they pushed it to its lowest point in five months on concerns about inflation, the expanding supplies of new currency and big federal deficits. The dollar index, which measures the dollar’s performance against six major currencies, was up 0.1 percent.

As the dollar gained ground, gold prices fell moderately.

The jump in consumer confidence also helped the oil markets, where prices settled 78 cents higher, to $62.45 a barrel.

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