Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
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Relief on Wall St as year's losses recede

MARKET CLOSE: Insurance stocks led the rally as Hurricane Irene did less damage than expected.

Nevil Gibson
Tue, 30 Aug 2011

Stocks on Wall Street are on track to recover nearly all their losses for the year.

Insurance stocks led the rally as Hurricane Irene did less damage than expected. Stronger than expected personal-spending data for July also gave the market a boost.

Wall Street traders were back in business on Monday morning, though many had to drive into Manhattan after the storm downed power lines and limited commuter options.

At the close (8am NZ time), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 254.71 points, or 2.3%, to 11,539.25, within 1% of break-even for 2011.

Travelers was one of the blue-chip Dow's strongest performers, rising 4.6%. Bank of America leapt 6% to lead the index after agreeing to sell half its stake in China Construction Bank for a $US3.3-billion gain.

Pfizer was one of the Dow's other top performers, gaining 4% after positive results of a blood-thinner study. Co-developer Bristol-Myers Squibb added 2.1%.

The S&P 500 index gained 2.8% to 1210.08 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 3.3%, to 2562.11.

Other markets: Europe, Asia rise
European stocks rallied after Greece's EFG Eurobank and Alpha Bank were set to merge, boosting hopes that takeovers can help banks weather the sovereign-debt crisis.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 1.2% to close at 228.28, after closing up 1% last week, snapping a four-week losing streak. Markets in London were closed for a holiday.

The French CAC 40 index rallied 2.2% to end at 3154.20 while the German DAX 30 index surged 2.4% to close at 5670.07.

Most Asian stock markets rose after US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's speech at the weekend encouraged buyers.

Chinese stocks were sold the People's Bank of China announced new measures to boost bank reserves. The Shanghai Composite Index declined 1.4% to 2576.41.

Korea's Kospi soared 2.8% to 1829.50, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 1.5% to 4263.3 and Taiwan's Taiex advanced 1.8% to 7578.01.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average finished 0.6% higher at 8851.35, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.4% to 19,865.11 and India's Sensex rose 3.6% to 16,416.33.

Commodities: Oil up, gold down
Oil futures climbed as traders shrugged off the relatively minor impact of Hurricane Irene and focused on upbeat economic news.

Light, sweet crude for October delivery was up $US1.94, or 2.3%, to $US87.31 a barrel in New York. Brent crude on ICE Futures Europe rose $US1.25, or 1.1%, to $US112.61 a barrel.

A stronger sharemarket wiped away gold's early morning gains. Thinly traded August delivery gold was up $US20.80, or 1.2%, at $US1814.90 an ounce. It was the contract's last trading day.

The most actively traded contract, for December delivery, was down $US10.50, or 0.6%, at $US1786.80 an ounce.

Currencies: US dollar drops
The dollar weakened, failing to find support from upbeat US economic data. Trading was thin with the London markets closed.

The euro was at $US1.4535 compared with $US1.4499 late on Friday. The dollar was at ¥76.89 from ¥76.64, while the euro was at ¥111.75 from ¥111.13.

The UK pound was trading at $US1.6430 from $US1.6371.

Nevil Gibson
Tue, 30 Aug 2011
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Relief on Wall St as year's losses recede