U.S. stocks rebound after sharp sell-off

08:22, January 26, 2010      

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U.S. stocks recovered from a sharp three-day sell-off and gained momentum on Monday as market weighed on the likelihood of Ben Bernanke serving a second term as the Fed chairman.

All major indexes rallied. The Dow Jones rose 23.88, or 0.23 percent, to 10,196.86. Broader indexes also went higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 5.02, or 0.46 percent, to 1,096. 78 and the Nasdaq added 5.51, or 0.25 percent, to 2,210.80.

Gains in large bank stocks, techs and big industrial firms helped lead the market higher, with 18 of 30 Dow components rising. The biggest contributors were Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Travelers and Intel Corporation.

In financials, Wells Fargo & Co. added nearly 1.5 percent and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. gained more than half percent. Meanwhile, AK Steel Holding Corp., which posted a better-than-expected profit and forecasted higher steel prices, saw its shares jump 5.4 percent.

U.S. stocks suffered their worst three-day decline since March bottom last week after U.S. President Barack Obama proposed to impose new limits on the size of the nation's biggest banks as well as restrict their risk-taking abilities and Bernanke's reaffirmation suddenly appeared shaky.

Last week's loss of 4.1 percent was Dow's worst weekly performance since the one ended on March 6, 2009, when the index closed at a 12-year low. The Dow has risen 57 percent from the March bottom as of Friday's close.

The sentiment shifted on Monday as the more signs appeared in favor of Bernanke's reappointment as Fed chief, whose term expires on Sunday.

On Monday Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Dianne Feinstein of California said they would support his appointment. Presidential adviser David Axelrod said Bernanke has enough votes to be confirmed.

Last week several Senators expressed doubt about Bernanke's reappointment, which contributed to the market uncertainty causing the sharp decline. Many investors don't want to see a change as it may hurt the policy continuity and consistency.

Commodities related stocks also performed stronger on Monday. Oil prices, which failed to break the 74-dollar technical support, rebounded to settle at 75.26 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Energy and basic material shares rose.

However, a weaker-than-expected housing market report limited stocks' gains. The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales fell 16.7 percent in December, the biggest drop on record, as prospective buyers were granted more time to take advantage of a tax credit.

For the week ahead, investors were expecting Fed's latest assessment of the economy when it concludes the policy meeting on Wednesday. Fed is also expected to keep the key interest rates at current low levels. In the economic reports, the preliminary reading of the GDP growth in the fourth quarter 2009 is due on Friday, which will largely affect the market's trend.

Source: Xinhua
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