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Wall Street hits for six-month high

MARKET CLOSE: Strong bank earnings, improving jobless figures and well-received European bond auctions boosted stocks.

Nevil Gibson
Fri, 20 Jan 2012

Wall Street's financial stocks led all major indexes higher on strong bank earnings, improving jobless figures and European bond auctions.

The number of people seeking new unemployment benefits in the US tumbled by 50,000 last week to the lowest level since April 2008.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 45.03 points, or 0.4%, to 12,623.98 at the close (10am NZ time), a six-month high.

Bank of America was by far the Dow's biggest gainer, rising 2.4% after the company reported fourth-quarter revenue that exceeded expectations.

Non-Dow stock Morgan Stanley gained 5.4% after reporting a narrower-than-expected fourth-quarter loss and revenue that topped estimates.

The S&P 500 index advanced 0.5% to 1314.50 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.7% to 2788.33.

Other markets: Europe, Asia up
European markets were broadly higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600 adding 1.2%, a fourth consecutive gain.
Well-received bond auctions in France and Spain and hopes that Greece's talks with debt holders were progressing bolstered sentiment.

Asian sharemarkets were mostly higher, with China's Shanghai Composite climbing 1.3% and Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rising 1%.

In commodities, crude-oil prices dropped 0.3%, to $US100.29 a barrel.

Gold futures edged down 0.4%, to $US1653.40 an ounce.

In currency markets, the US dollar lost ground against the euro but advanced slightly versus the yen.

Nevil Gibson
Fri, 20 Jan 2012
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Wall Street hits for six-month high