- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - An increasingly confident Wall Street is gearing up for another big jump.

Stock futures surged about 2 percent Thursday as the world’s finance leaders discussed the global economy. Investors were enthusiastic about word from the London meeting of financial regulatory changes and increased funding for the International Monetary Fund.

Investors have also grown optimistic that data in recent weeks have suggested a bottoming-out of the economy, at least in the United States. Since its nearly 12-year low on March 9, the Dow Jones industrial average is up 18.6 percent.

On Thursday, the U.S. government reports on U.S. factory orders in February and last week’s jobless claims. On Friday, it will release its highly anticipated March jobs report.

Ahead of the market’s open, Dow futures rose 142, or 1.8 percent, to 7,860. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures rose 17.90, or 2.2 percent, to 827.10. Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 28, or 2.2 percent, at 1,279.00.

On Wednesday, the first day of the second quarter, the major indexes gained 1.5 percent, as investors shrugged off data from a private research group that boded badly for Friday’s employment data. Instead, they focused on data showing a rebound in pending home sales and better-than-expected manufacturing activity.

The Dow Jones Total Stock Market index, which reflects nearly all stocks traded in the United States, has gained 20.2 percent _ or $1.6 trillion _ since March 9.

Analysts are quick to point out, however, that stocks are still well below their October 2007 record highs, and that market rebounds are typically volatile. Investors got a taste of volatility on Monday, when stocks dropped sharply as the Obama administration raised the possibility of a U.S. automaker bankruptcy.

Bond prices slipped in early trading Thursday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.72 percent from 2.66 percent late Wednesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.22 percent from 0.21 percent.

Crude oil rose $2.41 to $50.80 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The dollar was mostly lower against other major currencies.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 4.4 percent. In midday trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 3.1 percent, Germany’s DAX index rose 4.4 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 4.2 percent.

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On the Net:

New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com

Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com

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