- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

UPDATED:

U.S. stock markets posted gains Wednesday on better-than-anticipated reports on home sales and manufacturing.

The Dow Jones industrial Average closed at 7,761.60, up 152.68 points. The S&P 500 closed at 811.08, up 13.21 points, and the NASDAQ rose 23.01 points, to 1,551.60.

Pending home sales rebounded in February from a record low, according to the National Association of Realtors, and the Institute for Supply Management reported U.S. manufacturing activity shrank by less than anticipated.

Wall Street opened with stocks falling after a report by Automatic Data Processing Inc. showed that private-sector employment decreased by 742,000 in March.

The Dow is up 16 percent from its nearly 12-year low in early March, but the gains Wednesday came a day after the Dow closed its worst first quarter in 70 years.

The advances were lead by technology stocks, including Microsoft Corp., which increased 75 cents, to $19.12. Apple Inc. stocks rose $3.26, to $108.38.

Investors remain concerned about the potential outcome of the G-20 summit in London, where world leaders are gathering to find solutions to the global economic crisis.

On Wednesday, protesters rallied in London streets, smashing windows and forcing their way into the Bank of Scotland building. On Thursday, Mr. Obama also is expected to face criticism from inside the meetings.

Critics say Mr. Obama has used too much U.S. taxpayer money to spend his country out of the global recession and that they will not be forced to do the same. The most vociferous opposition to calls by the United States and Britain to increase fiscal stimulus packages is coming from France and Germany.

Investors also are concerned about news reports that President Obama favors bankruptcy for U.S. auto giants General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC. The White House reportedly has denied the report. Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday reported that sales of cars and light trucks were down 41 percent in March, compared with March 2008.

The Dow gained 87 points Tuesday after plunging Monday by 254 points on Mr. Obama’s rejection of General Motors’ and Chrysler’s restructuring plans.

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