- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Reassuring words from Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke and strong gains overseas have Wall Street poised to extend a four-day rally. Futures pointed to a higher opening Monday.

Bernanke said Sunday night the recession would probably end this year if the government’s program to boost the ailing banking sector succeed. The Fed chairman did caution that the task of improving the banking system was a difficult one. During an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Bernanke said the government needs to get banks to lend more freely again and get the financial markets to work more normally.

Overseas markets were rallying Monday as well. Japanese financial stocks surged on reports that the government would bolster their capital, while British lender Barclays PLC is the latest bank to say it had a good start to 2009.

Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 73, or 1.01 percent, to 7,305. Standard & Poor’s 500 futures rose 9, or 1.19 percent, to 763.60, while Nasdaq 100 index futures gained 11.75, or 1.01 percent, to 1,179.75.

Investors will get plenty of economic data throughout the week to provide insight into the ongoing recession. The Fed will release a report on February industrial production Monday morning. The report will likely show production declined for the fourth straight month.

It is due out at 9:15 a.m. EDT.

Other data due out this week includes producer and consumer price reports as well as weekly unemployment claims data. The Fed also hosts its regular two-day meeting Tuesday and Wednesday where it sets key interest rates.

Investors are looking to build on last week’s gains that saw the Dow rise 9 percent and the S&P; 500 index jump 10.7 percent. Investors were encouraged by better-than-expected retail sales and upbeat news from some beaten-down banks.

Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. _ the banks that have received among the most federal funds _ both said they were performing well through the first two months of the quarter.

Bond prices fell Monday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.94 percent from 2.90 percent late Friday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.24 percent from 0.20 percent late Friday.

The dollar mostly fell against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Oil prices fell $1.94, to $44.31 per barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 1.8 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 1.8 percent, Germany’s DAX index rose 2.1 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 2.6 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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