13 Mar 2009

Wall St rallies on spending data and GE rating

10:04 am on 13 March 2009

Stocks in the United States rose for a third day on Thursday.

Retail sales data showed some stabilization in consumer spending and Standard & Poor's lowered its rating on General Electric by only one degree.

Shares in GE rose by almost 13% to $US9.57 as a result.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc was up 3.1% at $US48.94, after a government report that sales at US retailers fell by an unexpectedly small margin in February.

Shares of General Motors climbed 17.2% to $US2.18 after the automaker said that it will not immediately need $2 billion in emergency funding for March.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 239.66 points, or 3.46%, to 7,170.06.

Standard & Poor's 500 Index jumped 29.38 points, or 4.07%, to 750.74. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 54.46 points, or 3.97%, to 1,426.10.

The Dow closed above 7,000 for the first time since 27 February, but is still 46% below its record close in October 2007.

Bank of America chief executive Kenneth Lewis said the bank - the largest in the United States - was profitable in January and February, and should be able to ride out the recession without any additional help from the federal government.

Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase executives issued similar comments in the two previous trading sessions.

Bank of America's stock rose by almost 19% to $US5.85 and JPMorgan gained 13.7% to $US23.20.

Health care companies up

Health-care companies were also up after Gilead Sciences Inc said it will buy CV Therapeutics Inc for about $US1.4 billion.

Genentech rose 1.9% to $US93.92 on the New York Stock Exchange after Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG struck a deal to acquire all of the company's outstanding shares for $US46.8 billion.

Pfizer advanced 9.6% to $US14.02 following news that its drug was effective in slowing a rare type of pancreatic cancer.

Trading was active on the New York Stock Exchange, with about 1.81 billion shares changing hands - above last year's estimated daily average of 1.49 billion.

About 2.44 billion shares were traded on the Nasdaq - above last year's daily average of 2.28 billion.