- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Wall Street rose modestly Tuesday as investors set aside their inflation concerns and went back to buying as they awaited a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

The Fed gave the market a jolt this week by announcing plans to buy Treasury securities to revive lending and the economy. Wall Street initially jumped on the move but fell Thursday on worries about the dollar and inflation.

In just two days, the dollar fell 5 percent versus the euro and 3 percent versus the yen. Oil prices, meanwhile, soared 7 percent Thursday above $51 a barrel to the highest level this year.

Investors are eager for more insights into the Fed’s plans. Bernanke will be speaking on the financial crisis at the Independent Community Bankers of America convention in Phoenix. The speech is set for noon EDT.

Stocks were also due for a pullback after the Dow Jones industrial average rose more than 14 percent over seven trading days. But considering how much the market has rallied, it appears to be holding up well. Since a batch of troubled banks told investors they were profitable in January and February nearly two weeks ago, the stock market bounced off its 12-year lows. Even after Thursday’s retreat, the Dow was still up 13 percent from its lows, and the S&P; 500 index was up nearly 16 percent.

The question on Wall Street is whether there will be enough good news in the coming days to keep stocks rising.

In the first hour of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 50.73, or 0.7 percent, to 7,451.53.

Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3.36, or 0.4 percent, to 787.40, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 11.89, or 0.8 percent, to 1,495.37.

Government bond prices mostly rose after retreating Thursday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.59 percent from 2.60 percent late Thursday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.20 percent from 0.18 percent.

The dollar recovered modestly against other major currencies. Gold prices slipped.

Oil prices fell 9 cents to $51.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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