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Wall St claws back last week's losses

Stocks on Wall Street rebounded from the year's biggest weekly decline.

The market was boosted by comments from US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who said continued accommodative policies were necessary to create jobs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 161.20 points, or 1.2%, to 13,241.93 at the close (9am NZ time).

The S&P 500 index rose 1.4% to 1416.52, erasing all of last week's losses, while the Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.8% to 3122.57.

Other markets: Europe up, Asia mixed
European markets were mostly higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.9% to 268.12.

Germany's Ifo Institute said its business confidence index for March rose to 109.8, the highest reading in nine months, and slightly above expectations.

London's FTSE 100 Index was up 0.3% at 5873.54, Frankfurt's DAX was up 0.4% at 7021.36, and Paris' CAC 40 Index was 0.1% lower at 3472.65.

Asian markets were mixed, with China's Shanghai Composite rising 0.1% to 2350.60 and Japan's Nikkei Stock Average adding 0.1% to 10018.24.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.2% to 4262.8 and Korea's Kospi fell 0.4% to 2019.19.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index finished flat at 20668.86 and Taiwan's Taiex tumbled 1.4% to 7967.62, succumbing to profit-taking pressure after a three-day advance.

Commodities: Oil, gold up
Crude-oil futures lost steam after prices initially on a speech by Dr Bernanke that spurred hopes of more economic stimulus.

Crude for May delivery declined just 5USc to $US106.82 a barrel in New York.

Gold futures rose to their highest level in almost two weeks on Dr Bernanke’s remarks.

The most actively traded gold contract, for April delivery, rose $US23.20, or 1.4%, to settle at $US1685.60 an ounce in New York, the highest ending price since March 13.

Currencies: US dollar falls
The US dollar weakened and the euro hit its highest point since March 2 after Dr Bernanke voiced doubts about the pace of US job creation,

The Fed's bond-buying has tended to boost equities and higher-yielding assets and weaken the dollar, which has fallen to its lowest level in nearly three years.

The euro rose above $US1.33 to its highest point since March 2. It traded at $US1.3323, up from $US1.3270.

The dollar fell to 0.9052 Swiss francs, from 0.9081 francs, while the pound rose to $US1.5925, from $US1.5869. The dollar also traded at ¥82.66. from ¥82.35.

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