Author: E.L. & C. Baillieu Stockbroking - by Andrew Thain
Stocks extended their bounce from a five-day slide that ended Tuesday. The Dow rose 181.19 points, or 1.4%, to 12986.58. Standard Poor's 500-stock index added 18.86 points, or 1.4%, to 1387.57.
Materials and industrials rose the most among the S&P's 10 sectors. Hewlett-Packard led the Dow higher, gaining after an upbeat report on personal computer sales.
The Nasdaq Composite gained 39.09 points, or 1.3%, to 3055.55. Blue chips' 2.1% two-day gain was the biggest such increase this year and recouped half the losses in a preceding five-day slide.
Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit registered its biggest contraction in nearly three years in February, narrowing more than economists expected.
The deficit in international trade of goods and services fell 12.4% to $46.03 billion, the Commerce Department said, compared with expectations of $52.2 billion. January's result was revised down slightly.
In corporate news, global shipments of personal computers rose in the first quarter, despite expectations for a decline amid impacts from a disk-drive shortage, according to industry researchers Gartner and IDC. H-P remained the top PC maker by volume, the firms said.
Hope that policy makers will keep interest rates ultralow triggered an upturn in European stocks despite news of a deeply discounted rights issue by a big Portuguese bank and a surge in new applications for U.S. unemployment benefits.
Stocks had fallen modestly in Europe as investors also digested decent—albeit not impressive—Italian bond auction results and mixed euro-zone data, but remarks from William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, gave the market a lift.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index ended up 1.2% at 257.36. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index ended up 1.3% to 5710.46 and Germany's DAX index rose 1.0% to 6743.24, while France's CAC-40 index finished 1.0% higher at 3269.79.
Asian stock markets ended mostly higher as Wall Street's rebound Wednesday and a drop in Spanish and Italian government borrowing rates helped restore some investor confidence, while shares in Sydney gained on an upbeat employment report.
China's Shanghai Composite jumped 1.8% to 2350.86, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 0.9% to 20327.32, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index added 0.8% to 4280.6 and Japan's Nikkei Stock Average added 0.7% to 9524.79.
South Korea's Kospi lost 0.4% to 1986.63 as investors played catch-up after a one-day break for elections.
While South Korea's conservative ruling party retained its parliamentary majority, providing policy stability, markets in Seoul have been on edge since North Korea's preparations for test firing a long range rocket in coming days.
The S&P/ASX 200 finished 34 points or 0.81 per cent higher to 4280.5, while the broader All Ordinaries Index added 34 points or 0.79 per cent to 4361.6. All sectors closed in positive territory, led by the information technology, telecommunications and health sectors.
Helping mining stocks was a 0.7ıper cent gain in copper on Wednesday. Australian copper miner PanAust added 5.39 per cent to become one of the day’s top performers. The company also came in focus after reports that output from its Phu Kham gold and copper mine in the first quarter was in line with analyst estimates. The stock closed at $3.13.
Seven Group Holdings was the day’s best performer, up 5.4 per cent or 53¢ to $10.34 after the company’s heavy machinery business, WesTrac, bought the local arm of a US parts and services business for $US400 million.
Crude-oil futures rallied Thursday, supported by a rising U.S. stock market following dovish comments by two U.S. Federal Reserve officials and a weaker dollar.
Crude for May delivery advanced 94 cents, or 0.9%, at $103.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices earlier had stumbled a bit after disappointing data on U.S. unemployment claims.
Gold futures rose on Thursday, getting a boost from a weaker dollar and rising U.S. stocks and as talks surfaced of another round of economic stimulus in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Gold for June delivery rallied $20.30, or 1.2%, to settle at $1,680.60 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.